Olympic Flag Arrives in Salt Lake
SALT LAKE CITY _ (AP) Only 1,446 more days.
That’s how much longer Utah will wait for the Winter Games.
But Olympic boosters did not delay their celebration; it began with the closing ceremonies in Nagano, Japan, on Sunday and culminated Monday afternoon as the Olympic flag arrived in Salt Lake City, host for the next Winter Olympics in 2002.
Cannons shot water in Olympic colors over the jet carrying the flag as it taxied to a stop and a marching band played amid fireworks and the cheers of about 1,500. An honor guard unfurled the flag carrying the white Olympic flag with five interlocking rings.
It arrived via Delta Flight 2002, a special charter flight, a bit later than its scheduled 3:30 p.m. MST arrival.
``For the first time on Utah soil, the Winter Olympic flag,″ proclaimed master of ceremonies Steve Young, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback and a graduate of Brigham Young in Provo, Utah.
``What more can one say than wow!″ said Salt Lake City Mayor Deedee Corradini, who was presented with the Olympic flag during the closing ceremonies and carried it home.
``The eyes of the world now turn from Nagano to Salt Lake City,″ she said.
A motorcade _ including four U.S. Olympic medal winners who were on the charter flight _ carried the flag to the City and County Building, where a Salt Lake 2002 flag will be flown while the real thing goes into a vault for safekeeping until 2002.
The flag was a long time coming.
Utah began its quest for the Olympics in 1966, but lost bids to Sapporo, Japan, for the 1972 games; Innsbruck, Austria, for 1976; and Nagano for 1998.
The Nagano decision in 1991 was the toughest, because the IOC vote was a close 46-42. Salt Lake stayed in the hunt, however, applying again four years later for the 2002 Games and this time succeeding on an unprecedented first ballot. It will be the first Winter Games for the United States since Lake Placid, N.Y., in 1980.
Frank Joklik, president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, told the crowd that Salt Lake _ like the people of Nagano _ can exceed everyone’s expectations and put on a triumphant Olympic Games.
``They provided ideal conditions for competition by the athletes,″ he said. ``The Japanese people lived right up to the Olympic ideals.
``Nagano is behind us now. It is now Salt Lake’s turn. It is a tremendous opportunity and a challenge. We can succeed if we all pull together, without divisiveness.″
Young, who has a home in Utah County, said, ``In the end, the citizens of Utah _ all of us _ will be the heart and soul of the 2002 Winter Games.″
The Olympic flag, Young said, should come to ``reflect who we are and who we can be.″
Melissa Lichtenstein took her children, ages 4 and 6, to the celebration because she thought it would be a fun way to start their Olympic experience.
``I’m not sure I’ll like the changes it will bring all the time, but it’s exciting,″ Lichtenstein said.
Utah residents’ support for the 2002 Winter Olympics has risen in recent months. According to a January poll for the Deseret News newspaper, 61 percent favor Salt Lake’s hosting of the Games.
Support had dropped as low as 53 percent last summer after the man who led Salt Lake’s quest for the Olympics for more than a decade, Tom Welch, resigned amid scandal. He pleaded no contest to a spousal abuse charge and was replaced by Joklik.