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The Latest: Lamm, Dempsey back Colorado Olympic vote

March 10, 2018

Chris Dempsey, co-chair of the No Boston Olympics initiative, speaks during a meeting about Denver submitting a bid to host a future edition of the Winter Olympics Saturday, March 10, 2018, in Denver. Opponents and proponents of the idea to host a Winter Olympics in Colorado squared off at the debate. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — The Latest on a community forum on Denver’s possible Olympic bid (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

The former Colorado governor behind Denver’s historic snubbing of the Olympics and the man who spearheaded the effort to stop Boston from hosting the Olympics think Colorado voters should be able to weigh in on whether Denver should host the Winter Games.

Speaking at a community forum on Denver’s consideration of a possible 2030 bid on Saturday, former Gov. Dick Lamm said democracies make up their minds by voting. He says lawmakers should put a referendum on the ballot this fall asking voters if they want to host the Olympics.

No Boston Olympics co-chair Chris Dempsey also says Colorado voters should have a referendum, adding the International Olympic Committee “hates them.”

The chairman of the committee looking at a possible Denver bid, Rob Cohen, told the audience that the committee will discuss whether to ask for a vote as part of its deliberations. It is set to make its overall recommendation in early May, when state lawmakers will be wrapping up their session.

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9:20 a.m.

The man who spearheaded the effort to stop Boston from hosting the Olympics is weighing in on whether Denver should bid on the games.

No Boston Olympics co-chair Chris Dempsey will participate in a debate on the issue in Denver Saturday along with former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm, who helped fight Denver’s plans to host the 1976 Winter Games. Denver became the first and only city to withdraw as an Olympic host after winning a bid.

Members of a committee studying whether Denver should try again to host a Winter Olympics, most likely in 2030, are also scheduled to participate in the forum sponsored by neighborhood groups. They expect to make a recommendation in early May.

On Friday, Lamm and others announced a new committee to oppose the latest possible bid.

The former Colorado governor behind Denver’s historic snubbing of the Olympics and the man who spearheaded the effort to stop Boston from hosting the Olympics think Colorado voters should be able to weigh in on whether Denver should host the Winter Games.

Speaking at a community forum on Denver’s consideration of a possible 2030 bid on Saturday, former Gov. Dick Lamm said democracies make up their minds by voting and said lawmakers should put a referendum on the ballot this fall asking voters they want to host the Olympics.

“Let’s vote,” Lamm, part of a newly formed Olympic opposition group, told the crowd of about 200 in his closing remarks.

In 1972, Lamm was a state lawmaker who helped lead a campaign to convince voters to reject funding for the 1976 Winter Games in Denver, making it the first city and only city to ever walk away from a successful bid. Besides cost concerns, Lamm said Colorado now would also have to worry about having enough snow to host the games because of climate change.

No Boston Olympics co-chair Chris Dempsey also said Colorado voters should have a referendum, adding the International Olympic Committee “hates them.”

Dempsey called the Olympic bidding process the “world’s most expensive auction” and said that the promises that cities make to win Olympics usually can’t stand up to democratic scrutiny. He warned attendees that hosting the Olympics could mean giving up one lane of Interstate 70 — Colorado’s often crowded highway to the mountains — to Olympic officials, including royal members of the IOC, and said it would be impossible to avoid having taxpayers be responsible for budget overruns despite the promises to the contrary.

“Bid books are the greatest fiction ever written,” Dempsey said.

Steve McConahey, a member of a committee convened by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to study whether Denver should pursue an Olympic bid, said the committee will not count on getting any taxpayer subsidies in its budget plans and that insurance would cover any unexpected expenses. While McConahey, chairman of chairman of SGM Capital, said that the IOC recently allowed Scion, Switzerland to promise that insurance would cover cost overruns, Dempsey said such insurance coverage does not exist.

The Olympic exploratory committee is expected to make a recommendation to Hancock and Gov. John Hickenlooper on whether to pursue an Olympic bid in early May. Committee chair Rob Cohen told the audience that the committee will discuss whether to ask for a vote as part of its deliberations.

After the forum, Lamm said there are no talks underway to introduce a referendum and that it would be better if the committee and Olympic opponents jointly ask state lawmakers for one. However, state lawmakers finish up their session around the same time that the Olympic committee will be making its recommendation, making it unlikely there would be enough time for lawmakers to agree to pursue a possible joint request. Olympic opponents still have the option to collect signatures to put their own measure on the ballot.

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