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The 2002 Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was the first Winter Olympics to be held in the United States since the 1980 games that were held in Lake Placid. New York. Needless to say, it was also the first Winter Olympic games after the turn of the century. Salt Lake City won the bid to host the 2002 Winter games over 3 other cities. Those cities were Ostersund, Sweden, Sion Switzerland, and Quebec Canada. The city of Salt Lake lost to Nagato, Japan in the bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics and also offered to fill in for Denver, Colorado when they withdrew from the 1976 Winter Olympics; it was later decided that Denver’s Olympics would be held in Innsbruck, Austria.
During the two-week span of these winter Olympic games there were no major political events that occurred other than the death of Jonas Sivimbi. Although a military leader, he was also a political leader and figure in Angola. He founded the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) which is a major political party to this day in Angola. Speaking in terms of major military conflicts, the Second War of Congo was coming to a conclusion. A horrific war as it was known as “Africa’s First World War”, it started in 1998 and officially ended in 2003. Although, distress and violence still continued after the conclusion of the war. “The conflict in Congo is a complex web of inter-connected needs, interests, and grievances that exist not only domestically in Congo, but also externally in neighboring states, such as Rwanda and Uganda, that have historically been involved in influencing Congolese politics.” (Prendergast) It was a war stemming from years of hostility. The violence that ensued in the Republic of Congo between many of these states ad regions in Africa can be looked at as having influence from the Cold War. “Congo fell into a constitutional and institutional crisis; the country became a pawn on the chess board of the Cold War.” (Berwoutz) This was a direct impact by the events of the Cold War as the events avalanched over into the African continent.
These political and military conflicts did not directly influence the 2002 Winter games in Salt Lake. This is mostly due to the lack of direct US influence in the distress in Congo and the vast proximity between the two locations. Although specific countries did not boycott the winter games in Salt Lake, many were against the games being held there as a scandal came to fruition. It was thought the Olympics were awarded to the Utah city because of bribery. International Olympic Committee members were accused of taking bribes from the Salt Lake organizing committee that was in charge of the bidding process for the Olympic games to be held there. The allegations ended up costing many Olympic Committee members to lose their jobs. And not only did they take that action but also adopted new rules when it came to the bidding process. Although there was no direct terrorist activity during the games, security was maxed out and everyone seemed to be walking around with their head on a swivel as it hadn’t even been 5 months since the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. The games were kicked off with President George W. Bush honoring those lives lost on that fateful day.
There were some very famous figures in these Olympic games that ended up being associated with some of the most famous athletes in the year 2002. One of them was Sarah Hughes. Sarah Hughes was a figure skater from Great Neck, New York. Through her success in Skating and school, Sarah had a very decorated career on and off of the ice leading up the Olympics. Very decorated although she had never won a Gold Medal at any world championship or Grand Prix. There was a magnifying glass on her especially during these games because everyone knew she was a true champion and this was her time to shine. She went on to take the Gold that year in Salt Lake. There was a parade held for her in her hometown and even then Senator Hillary Clinton declared that day Sarah Hughes day. She became the first American Olympic Gold Medalist before winning a US or world title. Another famous figure was Canadian national Jarome Iginla. Jarome Iginla was a hockey player that played for the Calgary Flames at the time. He was easily their best player as he recorded the most points of any player for four seasons. He was one of their few shining stars during their seven-year playoff absence. People had their eye on him due to his high NHL status and he lived up to that status. He opened the games with a hat-trick against Norway and when it was all said and done became the tournaments best goal scorer. He helped Canada secure the gold in Hockey by scoring two goals against the United States in the gold medal match and gave Canada their first Hockey gold in 50 years.
Norway, Germany, and the hosts, United States, all lead the table in medals in that order. Norway having the most Gold Medals at 13 and the US having the most overall medals at 36.
Class, race, and ethnicity have always played roles in all aspects of American life. The United States is a melting pot of all kinds of people and with that come many of these themes. The biggest that was in play during the games was gender. The role that gender played in the games did not really show itself too well until studies were later conducted about the 2002 games. It is most obvious in TV coverage. “NBC prime-time coverage from the 2002 Winter Olympics and found that men received almost twice as much coverage as women—a larger gap in gender coverage than the previous five Olympic Games.” (Feeney) Men’s events were clearly getting more attention than Women’s events. Even in sports not as looked at such as luge where Women’s luge was not even covered. Although this was beneath the surface during the time of the games, it still is a huge factor that played into the overall perception of Salt Lake 2002.
2002 Salt Lake was an absolute success in terms of economy and culture. “Official state estimates of the economic impact showed the Salt Lake Olympics yielded $100 million in profits, $4.8 billion in sales, 35,000 job years of employment and $1.5 billion in earnings for Utah workers during 2002.” (Lee) Those number do not lie. All that shows is that Salt Lake putting all the time and renovation into getting ready for the 2002 games was well worth it. Hotel room rents increased by 25%and a 42% increase in skier visits. Needless to say the 2002 Olympics put Utah and the city of Salt Lake on the map. Due to this there was not much criticism of these Olympics as Utah is still reaping the benefits of 2002 Salt Lake.
Propaganda for this these Olympic games were a huge factor in terms of marketing. They used very “American” companies to show a sense of unity and patriotism for the games being held in the United States. Through major companies like Budweiser, McDonalds, and Bank of America, marketing was done in a way to constantly remind viewers that these Olympic games were hosted by none other than the United States of America. “Another ad shows the hands of five members of the 1980 men’s hockey team, who unexpectedly defeated the Soviet team, grasping a hockey stick painted with red, white and blue stars and stripes.” (Levere) The American way is always being proud of accomplishments. Through these ads and ad providers, not only do they portray their pride in this world renowned companies, but also portrayed their previous mile stones in American history; much like the “Miracle on Ice.” Most viewers when they saw that felt that sense of patriotism and could most likely hear Al Michaels’s voice at the buzzer, “Do you believe in miracles?!” Bringing back that incredible feeling American’s worldwide had when the 1980s Men’s Hockey team won the Gold.
2002 Salt Lake was a turning point for America, the Olympic games, and the state of Utah. Even through some scandal, it was an important thing for the country especially after the events of September 11th. 2002 Salt Lake will go down in history as one of the most pivotal events in Olympic History.
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