OLYMPIC GAMES : Salt Lake City looks likely venue for 2002

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The Independent Online
Salt Lake City yesterday emerged as the most likely venue for the 2002 winter games when Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, announced a shortlist of four.

The Utah State capital will be joined by Oestersund, of Sweden, Quebec, of Canada, and Switzerland's Sion in a final secret ballot of the IOC's 100 full members in Budapest on 16 June.

Five other cities were eliminated from the new "pre-selection" procedure - Sochi (Russia), Graz (Austria), Tarvisio (Italy), Jaca (Spain) and Poprad-Tatry (Slovakia).

Under the new procedure, designed to prevent no-hopers wasting taxpayers' money, candidates have been prevented from inviting IOC members to their cities before the pre-selection. Over the next five months no such restriction will exist.

The IOC used a 10-strong selection panel, which appeared to base its decision largely on the findings of an IOC evaluation commission report published last month. That report clearly favoured the four cities that came out top.

However Vitaly Smirnov, head of the Russian Olympic Committee and an IOC vice-president, criticised the new procedure, saying it favoured cities with the money to build Olympic facilities before being chosen to host the Games.