Activists protest Games plans

December 19, 2001

The Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT)

By Brady Snyder

Advocacy groups planning to use the 2002 Winter Games as a platform for their causes stepped up their activism this week.

On Tuesday, an anti-abortion group threatened to sue Salt Lake City over its plans to accommodate Games-time protesters.

On Wednesday, animal-rights groups protesting the Olympic Command Performance Rodeo met in Switzerland with the International Olympic Committee's medical director.

The day before the meeting in Lausanne, Dr. Patrick Schamasch, who was put in charge of rodeo complaints by IOC President Jacques Rogge, appeared confident the Olympic committee would not intervene in the rodeo controversy.

"Nothing has to be changed from a traditional rodeo," Schamasch said Tuesday. "When you watch TV every day you can see much more important things. I'm not saying that animals are not important, but there are bigger issues."

But on Wednesday after the meeting, he was more circumspect, saying the IOC will examine Games organizers' plans for the rodeo, set for Feb. 9-11 at the Davis County Fairpark. Schamasch said Wednesday he would need more time to study the issue before commenting further publicly.

The one thing the IOC doesn't want is faux gold, silver and bronze medals being distributed to winners of rodeo events, something the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has planned. A rodeo associated with the Olympics shouldn't give out medals because that's not something that normally happens at rodeos and is seemingly piggy-backing on actual Olympic sports, Schamasch said.

The animal rights groups that met with Schamasch Wednesday are hoping the IOC will force the Salt Lake Organizing Committee to cancel the rodeo, which is an official event of the 2002 Cultural Olympiad.

Salt Lake organizers had met with a similar group of activists last month and out of that meeting, SLOC President Mitt Romney said he would work to ban calf-roping from the rodeo. Romney also wants an independent observer to monitor the rodeo proceedings and check on how the animals are treated.

A letter outlining Romney's wishes has been forwarded to the PRCA, which has yet to respond, noting that it has been busy cleaning up from the National Finals Rodeo, which ended Sunday in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, the pro-choice organization Generation Life, in collaboration with the Christian Defense Coalition, threatened to sue Salt Lake City if the administration doesn't change its protest plans for the 2002 Winter Games.

The organizations maintain the city can't ban protesters from Salt Lake Olympic Square since the area is accessible by the public.

The city has established several protest zones but none are inside the square, a secure area downtown that contains parts of several blocks and will house tens of thousands of Olympic revelers during Games time.

"It's almost disgusting because it's fake. It's a fake world inside the square," said Generation Life director Brandie Swindell. "It's this fake world that people are trying to create for the Games. Where are our constitutional rights?"

The city has already been sued by the Utah Animal Rights Coalition over similar protest-zone issues.

Joshua Ewing, spokesman for Mayor Rocky Anderson, said the city will allow protesters with signs inside the square; however, it won't allow large groups. Protesters, Ewing said, in groups of no more that two, can enter the square with signs as long as they're made with innocuous material like cloth or poster board.

More Videos

To see even more documentation and video exposés please visit SHARK's YouTube account to watch any of our over 1000 videos!

Click Here

Follow SHARK on Social Media