Summit Daily letters: The pitfalls of an Olympic pipedream in Colorado
The pitfalls of an Olympic pipedream
Antonio Olivero’s March 22 article on the Summit Daily’s public forum on the possibility of a Colorado-hosted Olympics provided a good outline of the financial pros/cons for the 2030 Olympics in Denver/Summit/Eagle, but several important comments voiced at the 3/21 public event need mention for balance:
1. It was voiced as a plus that this would be the highest altitude games held, and by 2030 we may be one of few places with predictable snow. This would make us “famous,” along with larger crowds, even without hosting an Olympics! Adding further pollution to showcase an Olympics here is not the best way to make that point.
2. This high altitude for many venues (9,000-11,500 ft) will pose a severe health hazard, i.e., altitude sickness for non-acclimatized visitors, often worsened by alcohol/marijuana. Even for “normal” skiing crowds during spring break/holidays, health facilities in Frisco and Vail are inundated by visitors requiring oxygen/respiratory care, on top of the usual trauma. The demand on these facilities will be massively strained, possibly needing more facilities.
3. While emphasis is placed on the needs to improve traffic on I-70 (the train will continue to be a pipedream), there are greater infrastructure needs to not irreversibly impact quality of life in our mountain communities. Required will be major investment in housing (for athletes and support teams, security, food and utility staff, an ever increasing media and, of course, for huge numbers of attendees from around the world), all for at least three months, including training and Special Olympics events.
4. Infrastructure needs also include: major local/regional road improvements and traffic control (traffic between venues will be horrendous), extraordinary parking needs, revamped utilities and massive increases in security/policing. In short, despite what was said at the meeting, we do NOT have the needed infrastructure, unlike Salt Lake City, a large city with high-rise housing 30 minutes from the ski/board venues and an airport 45 minutes away, while DIA is two hours without traffic jams!
Peter Raich, MD
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