Rodeo foes lasso a meeting with IOC

Friday, December 14, 2001

The Deseret News (Salt Lake, UT)

By Brady Snyder

An international assemblage of animal-rights advocates seeking to stop the 2002 Olympic Command Performance Rodeo says it will meet with the International Olympic Committee Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland.

At the meeting with IOC medical director Dr. Patrick Schamasch, the conglomerate of three animal-rights groups will ask that the IOC intervene to cancel the rodeo, scheduled to be part of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee’s Cultural Olympiad.

The group is a similar collection to one that met with SLOC President Mitt Romney two weeks ago and asked him to sever ties with the rodeo.

After that meeting Romney said he would work to eliminate calf roping from the rodeo’s planned seven-event format and would ask that the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association allow an independent observer to monitor the care of rodeo stock.

In a letter sent to PRCA commissioner Steven J. Hatchel last week, Cultural Olympiad artistic director Raymond T. Grant made Romney’s plea stating he would “like to move forward with the rodeo even if that means exploring the altering of events (e.g. calf roping) as well as this suggestion for an independent observer.”

The PRCA won’t respond to Grant’s letter until Monday since it’s too busy with its annual National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, spokesman Steve Fleming said.

Even as they prepared to meet with the IOC, animal rights activists renewed a call for SLOC to cut ties with the rodeo.

”If they go forward with this, their reputation is going to get hurt. I’m going to see to it,” said Steve Hindi, director of Showing Animals Respect and Kindness – the only U.S. group that will attend the IOC talks in Switzerland.

Adding fuel to the anti-rodeo fire was the death of a bucking bronco at the National Finals Rodeo last weekend. The animal was euthanized after it broke its back during competition.

The rodeo – scheduled for Feb. 9-11 at the Davis County Fairpark – has brought criticism from many animal-rights groups.

The groups contend that rodeos are inherently cruel to animals and don’t follow Olympic ideals of peace and goodwill. Organizations like the Utah Animal Rights Coalition, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and others – including gold-medal figure skater Scott Hamilton – have said that the rodeo will give the Olympics a black eye.

On Thursday, Dr. Gail C. Golab of the American Veterinary Medical Association took umbrage with previous comments made by Grant, who said that the rodeo will follow guidelines established by the AVMA.

Golab points out that the AVMA has no guidelines for rodeos and hasn’t had contact with the PRCA or SLOC.

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