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The 2002 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XIX Olympic Winter Games were a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated in February 2002 in and around Salt Lake Citymarker, Utahmarker, United Statesmarker. The motto chosen was Light The Fire Within.

Salt Lake City became the most populous area ever to have hosted a to host the Winter Olympics four years later, and will be surpassed again when Vancouvermarker hosts the 2010 Winter Olympics.. It was also the most ecologically varied area to hold the Winter Olympics; a large hot and arid desert lies just to the west of Salt Lake City.


Other candidate cities were: Quebec Citymarker, Quebecmarker, Canadamarker; Sionmarker, Valaismarker, Switzerlandmarker; and Östersundmarker, Swedenmarker. Salt Lake City was selected as host city on June 16, 1995, at the 104th IOC Session in Budapestmarker, Hungarymarker. Olympic venues were scattered around Salt Lake City, as well as in the mountains at Park Citymarker, Ogdenmarker, and Provomarker. Athletes were housed in the Olympic Village at the University of Utahmarker.

The information below comes from the International Olympic Committee Vote History web page.

2002 Winter Olympics Bidding Results
City NOC Name Round 1
Salt Lake Citymarker, Utahmarker 54
Östersundmarker 14
Sionmarker 14
Quebec Citymarker, Quebecmarker 7


  • The opening ceremonies included Grammy Award-winning artist LeAnn Rimes singing "Light the Fire Within," the official song of the 2002 Olympics.

  • John Williams composed a five-minute work for orchestra and chorus, Call of the Champions, that served as the official theme of the 2002 Winter Olympics, his first for a Winter Olympiad. It was performed by the Utah Symphony Orchestra and featured the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing the official motto of the Olympic Games "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (Faster, Higher, Stronger). The premiere of the work at the opening ceremonies also corresponded with John Williams's 70th birthday. The work is featured on the CD American Journey, and also on the Choir's recording Spirit of America.

  • Along with the flag that flew at the World Trade Center site, the Challenger flag was also carried into the stadium.

  • The opening segment of the opening ceremony celebrated all previous hosts of the Olympic Winter Games.

  • The Olympic Flame was lit by the members of the Gold Medal-winning US Hockey Team of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NYmarker, which was the previous time the Winter Olympics were in the US. (See picture at right)

  • These were the first Games to be held under IOC president Jacques Rogge.

  • Skeleton returned as a medal sport in the 2002 Games for the first time since 1948.

  • Ireland reached its best ever position and came close to winning its first winter medal when Clifton Wrottesley (Clifton Hugh Lancelot de Verdon Wrottesley, 6th Baron Wrottesley) finished fourth in the men's skeleton event.

  • The Women's Bobsled Event had its debut at the 2002 Games after several years of World Cup competition.

  • A feature of these Games was the emergence of the extreme sports, such as snowboarding, moguls and aerials, which appeared in previous Olympic Winter Games but have captured greater public attention in recent years.

  • American Sarah Hughes won the gold medal in figure skating. American and heavy favorite Michelle Kwan fell during her long program and received the bronze medal.

  • Chinamarker won its first and second Winter Olympic gold medals, both by women's short-track speed skater Yang Yang .

  • One of the most memorable stories of the event occurred at the men's short track. Australian skater Steven Bradbury, a competitor who had won a bronze in 1994 as part of a relay team but well off the pace of the medal favourites, cruised off the pace in his semifinal only to see three of his competitors crash into each other, allowing him to finish second and go through to the final. Bradbury was again well off the pace, but lightning struck again and all four other competitors crashed out in the final turn, leaving a jubilant Bradbury to take the most unlikely of gold medals, the first for Australia—or any other country of the Southern Hemispheremarker—in the Olympic Winter Games.

  • Australia winning their second gold medal, courtesy of Alisa Camplin in Women's Aerials, the first ever Winter Games medal won by an Australian woman and the first Winter Games gold by a woman from the Southern Hemisphere.

Detail of the 2002 Winter Games Olympic Torch

  • There was a Canadian dollar underneath the ice in support of the Canadian men's team, supposedly placed there at the request of Wayne Gretzky, who knew the man responsible for ice upkeep.

  • Team Belarus's Vladimir Kopat scored a game winning goal from center ice against Team Sweden in quarter finals, getting Belarus to their best place in international hockey so far.


  • Prior to these Olympic Winter Games, a number of IOCmarker members were forced to resign after it was uncovered that they had accepted bribes in return for voting for Salt Lake City to hold the Games. IOC Presidentmarker Dr. Jacques Rogge and new CEO of the Salt Lake Games Mitt Romney then staged the Games and contended with the public opinion backlash due to the scandal.

  • Athletes in Short track speed skating Ohno actually finished second in the race to Kim Dong-Sung of South Korea, but was awarded gold after Kim was disqualified for cross-skating across him on the final lap. This controversial decision by the referee lead to the anger of many Koreans, and the sending of overly 16,000 threatening emails that overflooded the servers of the Olympics website. It took nearly nine hours to restore the site. Korea considered boycott.

  • Athletes in cross-country skiing were disqualified for various reasons including doping by two Russians and one Spaniard in cross-country skiing, leading Russia to file protests and threaten to withdraw from competition.

  • Unproven allegations of bribery were leveled against many ice skating judges, leading to the arrest (at the request of the United States) and release of known criminal Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov by Italian officials.

  • While there was a lot of international sympathy for the US in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, there were complaints that the Games were being conducted in a too patriotic or jingoistic way. In particular, President Bush was criticized for breaches of protocol, most of all for departing from the Olympic charter by extending the declaration to open the Games when he said, “On behalf of a proud, determined and grateful nation”, before adding the traditional formula, “I declare open the Games of Salt Lake City”. In addition, the President opened the games standing among the US athletes while previous heads of state opened the games from an official box. NBC's Bob Costas applauded the move during the network's coverage of the Opening Ceremony.

Security measures

These Olympic games were the first since September 11, 2001, which meant a higher level of security than ever before provided for the Games. The Office of Homeland Securitymarker (OHS) designated the Olympics a National Special Security Event (NSSE).

Aerial surveillance and radar control was provided by the marines of Marine Air Control Squadron 2 det C, from Cherry Point NC.

When he spoke during the opening ceremonies, Jacques Rogge, presiding over his first olympics as IOC president, told the athletes of the United States, the host country:

Medals awarded

Salt Lake City 2002 bronze medals


NOTE: Because of the no-commercialization policy of the Olympics, the Delta Center was labeled as the "Salt Lake Ice Center," causing some confusion for visitors.

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 13 5 7 25
2 12 16 8 36
3 (host nation) 10 13 11 34
4 7 3 7 17
5 5 4 4 13
6 4 5 2 11
7 4 4 5 13
8 4 2 1 7
9 3 5 0 8
10 3 4 10 17

Participating nations

78 National Olympic Committees sent athletes to the Salt Lake City games.

Cameroon, Hong Kong (China), Nepal, Tajikistan, and Thailand participated in their 1st Winter Olympic games.

  • (host)

Participating nations


  1. Salt Lake population figures by the United States Census
  2. Opening Ceremony - Salt Lake City 2002
  3. Salt Lake City 2002 Opening Ceremony Beginning

See also

External links

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