The 2002 Winter Olympics was a winter sport event that took place in Salt Lake City, United States. Officially recognized as “XIX Olympic Winter Games”, the event witnessed approximately 2500 athletes from 77 countries participating in 78 events.
This was the sixth time when the Olympic Games were being held in the United States. Along with the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee also managed to organize the 2002 Winter Paralympics. The mega event took place between the 8th and the 24th of February, 2002. It was also noted to be the largest Winter Olympics till that date and included ten previously unrecognized events. The games were regarded a huge success by the International Olympic Committee because it managed to raise more money with the help of fewer sponsors. The broadcasting and viewership of these games were also very notable, generating a viewership base of more than 2 billion people. At the conclusion of the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee was left with a surplus of almost $40 million. This money was used to found the Utah Athletic Foundation, which undertook the responsibility of maintaining all the remaining Olympic venues in the city.
Salt Lake City got the opportunity to host the 2002 Winter Olympics when it surpassed Sion, Quebec and Östersund in the bidding process. The decision came through in the 104th session of the International Olympic Committee, which took place in Budapest.
Grammy Award winner, LeAnn Rimes sang the official song of the 2002 Winter Olympics, “Light the Fire Within”, at the opening ceremony. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, again a Grammy Award winner, sang the “Star-Spangled Banner”, the United States’ national anthem. The opening ceremony also comprised of the flag that flew at New York’s Ground Zero and New York Police Department officer, Daniel Rodriguez singing the song, “God Bless America”.
The 2002 Winter Olympics is also known to be the first time when the games were opened by the President of the United States. They were also the first Olympics to be held after the retirement of IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge. Ole Einar Bjørndalen dominated the men’s events, winning a total of 4 gold medals. He was followed by Samppa Lajunen, who managed to win 3 gold medals. The ice hockey team of Canada defeated the United States’ team 5-2, ending an ice hockey gold medal drought of 50 years.