The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City:
A Gold Mine for Those with Friends in Washington, D.C.

Feb 4, 2002

According to Sports Illustrated, the Winter Olympics, to be held at Salt Lake City in February, has already used up 1.5 billion dollars in federal funds. That’s one-and-a-half times the amount spent by the federal government to support all seven Olympic Games held in the U.S. since 1904 combined–in inflation-adjusted dollars. Compared to the last Olympics held in the U.S., in Atlanta in 1996, this is two-and-a-half times more–again after inflation is taken into account.

Where is all this money going? The largest chunk of it, half a billion dollars, was allocated for repaving highways, building new roads and other projects related to roads and highways around Salt Lake City. It just so happens that many of these roads lead to sites of new real-estate developments, vastly increasing their values.

Just good luck on the part of real-estate developers? Hardly. To the contrary: these capitalists, with the complicity of politicians tied to them, used the Olympics as a cover to funnel millions of dollars in taxpayer money into their pockets. One of these businessmen, C.C. Myers, for example, got federal funds to build a road to his development of 700 houses. He also got the state agency overseeing construction of Olympic facilities to bear all the costs of installing utilities, telephone and sewer lines to his development. As a result, the value of the land alone, without the houses, went from three million dollars in 1990 to 48 million dollars ten years later–a 16-fold increase, all pocketed by Myers and his partners.

Another big beneficiary of federal Olympics money is Earl Holding, oilman and one of the country’s largest landholders. After Salt Lake City was chosen for the Olympics, Holding managed to give some remote, mostly unusable land he owned over to the federal government in exchange for 1,320 acres of prime national forest land. Supposedly, this land was being given to Holding to build venues for some of the Olympic events–except that those events needed only 100 acres, not 1,320 acres. And they didn’t have to be transferred to Holding. Not surprisingly, Holding is now busy building a luxurious ski resort on this land, with the federal government contributing another 15 million dollars to build a road to the resort. The Olympic events on Holding’s land will take six days. After that, the land will be Holding’s to keep.

How was Holding able to get everything he wanted from the government? He got a little help from Utah Congressmen, such as Senator Orrin Hatch, and government officials, such as Gray Reynolds of the U.S. Forest Service–who went on to work for Holding after retirement!

The Olympics are about to begin, and we’ll hear those grandiose speeches again about the “purity” and amateur spirit of the games, about how they bring people from all over the world together, etc.–coming from the very same crooks who use the Olympics to fill their own pockets and those of their friends.