News from the Comstock
|In The Spirit of Mark Twain|
Virginia City, Nevada
Over Bobsled Issue
Virginia City, NV. Feb. 20, 1999. The proposal by the Sierra Nevada Olympic Reconsideration Committee (SNORC) to challenge the validity of the 2002 Salt Lake City winter games has tempers flaring in Virginia City. Having lost its bid to host the games to SLC, the Reno-Tahoe-VC area is seeking consideration to relocate the upcoming games in this area in response to the bribery scandal involving IOC members and SLC Officials.
The proposed construction of a permanent bobsled run from the summit of Mt. Davidson, also known as Sun Mountain, has pitted history-buffs and environmentalists against local merchants. The proposal. to build bobsled and luge runs from the summit to a lodge and staging area located in the open pit silver mine at the west end of C Street has caused more controversy than VC has seen in years. Environmentalists feel that any construction could seriously degrade the fragile ecosystem of the mountain. History enthusiasts argue that it would conflict directly with the flavor of the Comstock Historic District.
"How can we just suddenly throw a bobsled run into the mix?" inquires Steven Geschichte of the Comstock Historical Foundation. "It's simply unthinkable! This is a historic mining town, and the very idea of changing the whole character of the place by mining after bucks generated by the Olympic games is ludicrous. . besides, if this goes further, we will promise to seek a court injunction to prevent it!"
On the other hand, local merchants welcome the addition "The run will be a tremendous boost for the local economy!" states Jim Engel of the Virginia City Chamber of Commerce. "Winters are a terrible drain on the town economy, because whenever it snows, all the tourists stay away. This would really encourage year-round tourism."
One un-named local puts it this way: "That open pit mine has always been an eye-sore. I totally support putting an attractive sports facility there! Why should Tahoe get all the winter tourist traffic?"
The conflict rages on and opinion is evenly split. A compromise proposal may be the best solution to avoid litigation. An exploratory committee has been formed to investigate alternative sites. The two most promising possibilities are:First. Siting the lodge and sports facility just east of the mine tailings below the cemetery at the east end of town and following the often closed, undeveloped, Six Mile Canyon Road past Sugar Loaf Mountain to a yet undisclosed location near the mouth of the Sutro Tunnel. This would provide easy access to Hwy. 50. A second facility at the finish line, complete with a media center, could be constructed there. Second: Building the Starting facility on F Street, just south of the Chinese cemetery, and following the same Six Mile Canyon path.
Local Chinese societies have expressed concern Wong Ngai Chung, a spokesman for the VC chapter of Ngau Tau Kok, a national Chinese-American cultural organization states emphatically, "We cannot condone putting a sports facility too close to our ancestors' bones unless we consult first with a geomancer to determine the effect on the local fung seui."
Despite some vocal opposition to the facility in any form, the majority of VC residents recently polled appear to support the construction of the new facility if an appropriate location can be found.
|Salt Lake City|
to Benefit Virginia City
Virginia City, NV. Feb. 15, 1999. The Salt Lake City Olympic Committee (SLOC), embroiled in a bribery scandal, faced new allegations recently that it paid for sex for IOC members in a bid to win the 2002 Winter Games.
Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt said an Ethics Committee in Salt Lake City was looking into allegations that Olympic bid committee credit cards were used to pay for sexual favors for IOC committee members across the state line at brothels in Wendover, Nevada.
"If there's anything credible found of any of these rumors they will be fully, publicly and quickly disclosed," Leavitt said.
The head of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, Frank Joklik, and another top executive, Dave Johnson, resigned after an investigation by the committee's lawyers found improper payments were made to win the games. Four investigations, including one by the FBI are currently underway.
According to Reuters, Concerns are mounting that the scandal may pour cold water on sponsor enthusiasm. In fact several key sponsors have put their payments on hold until allegations are cleared up.
Meanwhile, in Geneva, Switzerland, IOC headquarters, another similar, but potentially more volatile situation is brewing. Quoting a January 26, 1999 article in the South China Morning Post, Seeing Red, Beijing considers it a "national humiliation" that a similar bribery situation is evident in the Sydney bribery scandal just now unfolding in the Far East.
According to Reuters, The growing scandal over cash payments made by Australian sports officials to snag the 2000 Olympics has stirred anger in Beijing, which lost the bidding war to Sydney by a razor-thin margin (45 to 43). "The Sydney bribery scandal will harm the development of international sport," said Wang Xinzhai, of the All-China Sports Federation and Chinese Olympic Committee. "Those who took bribes should resign!"
In 1988 Reno lost out to Salt Lake City for similar reasons. Now tensions are high. At that time, the Reno/Tahoe/Virginia City/Squaw Valley bid was similarly defeated by a narrow margin. A new organization calling itself the Sierra Nevada Olympic Reconsideration Committee has recently emerged. It has become clear that both Nevada and California would have to coordinate to eliminate any notion of competition. Both California and Nevada would have to cooperate to host the games, as the mountains border both states. The Sierra Region, which hosted the 1960 games in Squaw Valley, feels that Beijing is right. A re-count of votes by newly appointed IOC officials in order to assure fairness.
"We of the newly constituted Sierra Nevada Olympic Reconsideration Committee (SNORC), feel that the Chinese are right. "We should all call for a new vote." states spokesman, V. Kannes Zine. "How can the Olympic movement regain any integrity if it lets SLC get away with this travesty? We in the Sierra Nevada region have nearly all of the facilities necessary to host the games right now!" (Including major hotel space)
The only facilities which are out of date since the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics are the bob sled and luge runs which have been pledged to Virginia City.
"We can have the runs put in down Sun Mountain before those guys in Salt Lake City can say "Scandal," says local promoter, Joe Bugiardo. "Give us the vote, and we will show the world that we can put out!"
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