Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service

Project Prologue

Olympic Torch

On a crisp early morning just as the sun was rising, Utah welcomed the Olympic flame to state soil at the base of Utah’s oldest icon, Delicate Arch.  As an elder from the Ute Tribe waved an eagle feather and tossed red Utah dirt to the four winds, another Ute elder chanted a prayer to Deity and passed the Olympic torch to his granddaughter, a high-school soccer player, who got the flame started on its 1,050 mile run through the state.  The ceremony took about five minutes.  It was magnificent.



Introduction It was June 1995, and the International Olympic Committee members were gathered in Budapest to announce the location they had selected for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The delegates from Salt Lake City held their breath. Would the honor Utah had been seeking for fully three decades come at last? “Salt Lake City!” The announcement ignited the listeners in Hungary and the even greater crowd that had assembled in downtown Salt Lake to await the news. The long-deferred celebration could finally begin. Three years later, a city knee-deep in preparations to host the world was rocked by allegations of bribery and misconduct in securing the Games. After the initial shock and disappointment, the community pulled together to rise above the problems and reignite the Olympic spirit. Salt Lake was still the best place for the Games, and its people were determined to prove it.  On February 11, 1999, Mitt Romney was hired as the new president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Before Romney came on, the event was running $379 million short of its revenue benchmarks. Plans were being made to scale back the games to compensate for the fiscal crisis. The Games had also been damaged (more…)


Utah Olympic Public Safety Command

With attendance anticipated to be in the millions, the participation of some 3,500 athletes from over 80 nations, and daily support provided by over 20,000 organizers and planners, the 2002 Olympic Winter Games easily qualified as a world class sporting event.  Coverage by over 9,000 media representatives broadcasting to a television audience in excess of 3.5 billion viewers catapulted these Games onto the world stage.  Planning for the public safety and security of the Games required an unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination among the myriad of local, state and federal law enforcement entities with responsibilities associated with the Games. Under the direction of Dave Tubbs, the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command, this group of individuals had the responsibility to coordinate public safety for various security groups including the FBI, the Secret Service, the Army, the National Guard, Highway Patrol, local police, and county sheriff’s in a way that had never been done before.  Members of the UOPSC traveled to Emmitsburg, Maryland where they had extensive training in new technologies that allowed the coordination between local, state, and federal agencies that was unique to this Olympics. Members of this group were assigned full time to Olympic planning and were directly (more…)


Pin Trading

Beyond the actual athletic competitions, perhaps no other activity draws as much fan interest at the Olympics Games than the fascinating pastime of Olympic pin trading.  Both a leisurely diversion and an adventurous pursuit,  pin trading has become an enjoyable way to meet others from around the world and take home a reminder of the Olympic Games.  At the conclusion of the ceremony at Delicate Arch, Agencies from across the state exchanged pins as a memento of the event, the Governor passed out his pin of Delicate Arch with a snowflake dangling from the middle of the arch.


Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service