Ten years after the Salt Lake City Olympics, Utah officials have formed an exploratory committee to consider whether the state should bid for the 2022 Winter Games.
Gov. Gary Herbert made the announcement Wednesday on the 10th anniversary of the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Games, hours before he and a gathering of former Olympians relit the Olympic cauldron on the University of Utah campus.
"We've proved to the world we can do it, and do it better than anybody else. The question is: should we do it in 2022? I want to know what your feelings are on 2022?" he asked a crowd of hundreds, who cheered loudly in response.
Lt. Gov. Greg Bell and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker will co-chair the 13-member committee, which includes Steve Price, co-chairman of the Utah Sports Commission, and Olympic gold medal speed skater Eric Heiden, now an orthopedic surgeon practicing sports medicine in Park City.
Fraser Bullock, the chief operating officer of the Salt Lake Organizing committee that produced Utah's 2002 games, will serve as an adviser to the committee.
The committee was expected to present a report on its conclusions by May, according to a timetable of deadlines provided by the governor's office. If the recommendation is to pursue the games, a bid committee would be formed to present a report to the U.S. Olympic Committee in the fall.
"The 2002 Winter Games ware an exciting chapter of Salt Lake City's history," Becker said in a release. "We believe an investment of meaningful time and effort is worthwhile to make the right decision — not only for Salt Lake City, but for all of Utah."
At least two other U.S. states — Colorado and Nevada — have expressed interest in bidding for 2022.
Any bid would need the backing of the USOC.
Presently, "the USOC is not considering any bids for Olympic Games or Olympic Winter Games," Patrick Sandusky, the USOC's chief communications officer said in an email to The Associated Press.
The USOC is putting off any bids until it resolves a revenue-sharing dispute with the International Olympic Committee.
Run by 2012 Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, Utah's 2002 Games were considered successful, generating $876 million in corporate sponsorships and $100 million in overall profits.
But the bidding process was rocked by scandal, with bid leaders accused of securing the games through $1 million in bribes of cash, gifts, medical care and other favors to IOC members.
Federal prosecutors brought criminal charges against bid leaders Tom Welch and Dave Johnson, but both were acquitted of charges by a judge halfway through a federal trial. Two other men pleaded guilty to tax fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy charges, but were sentenced only to probation and fines.
Romney is scheduled to make a stop in Salt Lake City on Feb. 18 for an Olympics anniversary ice skating. His campaign for the presidential nomination has highlighted his role in the 2002 Winter Games with television ads saying he left his Bain Capital job to "help save the Olympic Games."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.