Olympics Aim to Minimize Rodeo Harm

Friday November 30, 2001

The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY – Olympic organizers promise to try to minimize harm to animals during a rodeo at the Winter Games.

The rodeo on Feb. 9-11 at the Davis County Legacy Center is part of the program of cultural activities accompanying the Salt Lake City Games.

“We would like to be able to set an example for how this can be done properly, to the extent humanly possible,” Salt Lake Organizing Committee president Mitt Romney said after Thursday's meeting with the Utah Animal Rights Coalition.

Possible measures include the use of independent observers. They could watch the use of electronic prods and flank straps on bucking bulls and broncs. Romney also said calf roping might be dropped.

Romney and Raymond Grant, director of the Olympic Arts Festival, met with UARC officials, who brought with them six national and international activists. Among them was Mechtild Mench of the Initiative Anti-Corrida in Munich, Germany.

“We consider rodeo as bullfights,” Mench said. “We think it's abuse directed at the same species.”

Others said rodeo paints a distorted picture of Western tradition. Steer wrestling, said activist Steve Hindi of Illinois-based Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, “was never a part of ranching life, except maybe as pure entertainment.”

Romney said the issues will be discussed with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the other rodeo groups.

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