Oly Enviromental Threates Discussed

The Olympic rings stand for unity, sportsmanship and community, but they also represent corruption and unaccountability to environmentalist David Orr.

The other panelists agreed as they discussed the effect of the Olympics on the surrounding environment Friday night in the Marriott Library?s Gould Auditorium. About 25 attended.

The panel featured Orr, director of field programs for Living Waters; Ivan Weber, former member of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee?s Environmental Advisory Committee; and Alexis Kelner, critic of hosting the Olympics in Utah.

?Although the Olympics are good for some things, they are not good for the environment,? Weber said.

?Are the Olympics good for the environment? I would have to give a relatively unqualified ?no,?? said Kelner, who left the Environmental Organizing Committee out of frustration.

Since the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, planners are supposed to seriously take the environment into account when planning the Games, Kelner said.

The Olympics have not been about athletics for a long time, but rather about advertising and money, Orr said. He called for the Olympics to be de commercialized.

Other panelists agreed.

?The Olympics is the greatest accumulation of greedy capitalists in the world?I leave you to imagine what terrorists could do with that,? Kelner said.

Orr also supported the building of low-impact, reusable facilities that would be less damaging to the environment.

He suggested designating neutral hosting grounds out of government control, much like the Vatican is separate from Italy. A host city would fund the Olympics, but the events would take place at a separate, pre-designated site.

The panelists discussed SLOC and Utah politicians disregarding environmental laws that resulted in Snowbasin receiving 1,377 acres of forest service land.

?SLOC plays the game of first saying, ?It?s too early to do anything? and then at some point saying, ?it would have been nice, but it?s too late now,?? Weber said.

The panelists also discussed SLOC?s proposal to put lighted Olympic rings on the mountains above the Avenues.

?The rings will burn 360,000 watts? said Orr. He feels the decision to poll the public was simply ?damage control,? and that the poll won?t really affect the decision.

He also mocked SLOC?s decided course for the Olympic Torch relay on Feb. 4. The course involves a bike ride through Arches, a run to Delicate Arch, a trip to Monument Valley and then to Bryce Canyon, all in the same day, he said.

?This is no relay. This is an airplane trip?It?s a highly resource-consumptive thing.?

[email protected]