Mitt Romney discusses Utah’s guns, curling, climbing and shooting at the 2030 Olympics

Kearns • Utah Senator Mitt Romney has no say in the International Olympic Committee’s decision on where the 2030 Winter Games will be held.

But on Friday he felt confident.

“We are definitely coming to 2030,” he said.

The senator was at the Utah Olympic Oval on Friday to receive a curling lesson from the Ukrainian national team who, thanks in part to Romney’s intervention, will be stationed in Utah until the end of the season. Russian invasion of this country. It was part of a sports-themed afternoon that also saw the senator discuss Utah’s Olympic bid and then tour the climbing structures that were erected in Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Park to host three events of the Climbing World Cup.

Romney has expressed support for a return of the Olympics to Salt Lake City, which could infuse the state’s economy with $3.9 billion. He said he thinks hosting international teams, like the Ukrainians, and world-class international events, like rock climbing, only cements Utah’s reputation as a place where sports are held in high esteem.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Senator Mitt Romney speaks to the media during a visit to the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, Friday, May 27, 2022.

“Obviously, having a community show such an interest in Olympic sport makes it more likely for the Olympic Committee to say, ‘Hey, this is a place to bring the Olympics,'” Romney said. “They want the games to be where people love the Olympics. And Utah has proven that’s something we absolutely love.

Utah doggedly pursued hosting the Winter Games in 2030. But whether it could get enough sponsor support so soon after LA 2028 complicates that offer. Additionally, the International Olympic Committee – which is expected to narrow its picks this summer – may feel pressured to give these Games to Sapporo, Japan, as a peace offer after Tokyo incurred billions of dollars in spending by delaying the 2020 Summer Games a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. So Utah might have to wait until 2034, or even further into the future.

Mitt Romney learns to curl

Romney’s job is in the Senate, but on Friday he was happy to be in the house.

The 75-year-old made just two attempts to slide a curling stone down the Oval ice cap. One of the shots landed on the outer edge of the target which is painted in ice – commonly referred to as “the house”.

“A Romney is in the house! said the senator afterwards.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Mitt Romney, left, and Fraser Bullock during a visit to the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, Friday, May 27, 2022.

After his few attempts at the sport — “the hardest part is getting down on your knees” — Romney spoke to the Ukrainian team through an interpreter. He told them that he and Fraser Bullock, the Salt Lake City Olympics organizing director, had helped build the Oval for the 2002 Winter Games. Bullock, who also dabbled in curling for the first time on Friday, is the chairman of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games scrambling to host the 2030 or 2034 Olympics.

“We look forward to seeing you here in 2030,” the senator told the nine athletes and their coach, Erkki Lill.

Looks like a good goal for 18-year-old Eduard Nikolov from Odessa. He didn’t know when Romney interrupted practice that the man trying to curl up in jeans and hiking boots had played a part in his team’s arrival in Utah. Ultimately, the state is expected to host up to 50 Ukrainian athletes and sports personnel, including a group of skiers expected in the state early next month.

Still, Nikolov expressed his gratitude for being protected from fighting in his home country, where his mother, father, older sister and niece still live. He loved going to a place he had heard of before, if only because he follows the NBA and watched the Utah Jazz on TV.

“I want, on behalf of the whole team, to thank everyone who helped us to be here and supported us,” Nikolov said through an interpreter. “And also, I want to send a big thank you to everyone in Ukraine.”

Climb the ladder

When Romney was ready to take up curling, he declined the invitation to scale a 49-foot wall.

After his stop at the Oval, he headed to Pioneer Park in downtown Salt Lake City, where a series of climbing walls had been built to accommodate three International Climbing Federation World Cup events. athletic. Instead of getting hands-on, he watched two Americans demonstrate speed climbing. Lined up side by side, they tried to scale identical routes carved into the towering wall. The first to the top wins.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Senator Mitt Romney visits the Ukrainian national curling team at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, Friday, May 27, 2022.

Speed ​​climbing was integrated, figuratively speaking, with bouldering and rock climbing in the lead when it made its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games last year – when Utah’s Nathaniel Coleman , won silver. For Paris 2024, however, it will be separated into its own discipline. Los Angeles has not determined how it will handle climbing for its 2028 Summer Games, but some of the climbers took the opportunity to urge Romney to encourage the separation of disciplines.

Romney was also treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Boulder World Cup course to be held on Sunday.

Romney discusses gun control

Shortly after a group of eighth-graders on a field trip to try curling left the ice at the oval, Romney advocated the foil side to get guns out of the hands of youngsters. The remarks came two days after 19 children and two adults were fatally shot by an 18-year-old at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

“People have the right to bear arms. At the same time, we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can think of to eliminate or reduce threats in our schools,” Romney told a group of reporters. “Therefore, consideration is being given to finding ways to ensure that young people do not have immediate access to weapons that could injure children. How this is going to be handled will probably be state by state. »

Romney said the Texas tragedy created momentum for Congress to come together for change.

“It’s something that’s been discussed at length over a long period of time,” he said, “and I think there’s now some momentum in place to actually make progress that people are excited about. ‘OK.”

One of Romney’s platforms during his 2018 campaign for the Senate was stricter background checks. He pleaded for those again on Friday. On the other hand, he said he would prefer that the passing of red flag laws be left to each state.

Utah does not have a red flag law, which allows law enforcement officials, often at the request of the family and with a court order, to seize the weapons of a person deemed a danger to themselves or to others. However, nineteen states have them, including Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

“The reason I think it makes more sense for waiting period laws and red flag laws to emanate from the states is that there are differences of opinion from state to state. “, Romney said. “Let the state legislature make those decisions.”

The Utah Legislature has “absolutely no appetite for this kind of legislation,” Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, said last year. Handy proposed that Utah pass red flag legislation in 2018, 2019 and 2020 without success.