Olympics

U.S. champion Michelle Kwan practices for the women’s short program for the Winter Olympic Games on Feb. 8, 2002, at the Salt Lake Ice Center in Salt Lake City. 

Denver voters will have to give their consent before the city spends public money on any future bid to host the Olympic Games.

That's under Initiative 302, which city voters passed by nearly a 4-1 margin in unofficial results from Denver's runoff election.

Supporters of a measure nicknamed "Let Denver Vote" claimed victory minutes after the polls closed on Tuesday.

As of midday Wednesday, the "yes" vote for 302 was leading 79.3% to 20.7% for the "no" vote.

"The people of Denver have spoken loudly, clearly, and with near unanimity," said Owen Perkins, spokesman for the "YES on 302 -- Let Denver Vote Campaign," in a statement. "This is an incredible testament to the power of a grassroots movement to triumph over the forces of big money and entrenched special interests."

He added: "The victory highlights a trend among Denver voters to demand accountability from their elected officials and a willingness to pursue citizen-initiated solutions when those elected officials are unresponsive to the will of the people."

The ballot question asked:

"Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver enact a measure prohibiting the use of public monies, resources, or fiscal guarantees in connection with any future Olympic Games, without the City first obtaining voter approval at a regularly scheduled municipal election or special election should the City decide to use public monies, resources, or guarantees for this purpose?"

There is no current proposal for Denver to seek an Olympic Games. Rather, Initiative 302 gives Denverites "the right to vote in the future about taxpayer dollars being spent on the Olympics," Perkins told Colorado Politics last month.

The effort to place the question on the ballot stemmed from meetings in February 2018 when members of the U.S. Olympics Committee met with Colorado and Denver officials to discuss a possible Winter Olympics bid in 2030 or later.

Those talks did not lead to any commitment by Denver or Colorado.

Instead, the Colorado Springs-based USOC last December chose Salt Lake City over Denver "to represent the United States in a potential 2030 bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games."

It’s expected that the bidding process for the 2030 games will begin in 2021, with a host city announced two years after that.

A U.S. city is not in contention for the 2026 winter games, which are to be awarded later this month. In contention for those games are Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, in a joint bid, and Stockholm, Sweden, with Italy seen as the frontrunner.

The 2022 winter games will be hosted by Beijing.

Perkins said former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm was among the supporters of the initiative. "He was instrumental in galvanizing support for the initiative," he said.

Lamm was one of the five committee members who began the petition effort to put the question on the ballot. He also served on the steering committee and hosted a fundraising at his home for the initiative in early March, Perkins said.

Lamm led the successful effort to reject Colorado as the location for the 1976 Olympics.

Arguments against the measure posted by the Denver Elections Division said 302 was "dangerously broad [and] has extensive unintended consequences."

The "anti" arguments said that under the measure, "private organizations whose entire reason for being is to promote and encourage events and business developments in Denver would be unable to even address the issue of an Olympic bid [without a public vote]. Without interaction of government and government groups there can be no bid, even one entirely privately financed."

Editor's note: This story was updated to include details of Dick Lamm's involvement in the pro-302 campaign.

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