by Adam Berg
University of Texas Press, 2023
Cloth: 978-1-4773-2645-9 | eISBN: 978-1-4773-2646-6
Library of Congress Classification GV842 1976.B43 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 796.480978883


A look back at how powerful politicians, business leaders, and a diverse cast of activists used a thwarted Olympics to shape the state of Colorado and the city of Denver.

If you don’t recall the 1976 Denver Olympic Games, it’s because they never happened. The Mile-High City won the right to host the winter games and then was forced by Colorado citizens to back away from its successful Olympic bid through a statewide ballot initiative. Adam Berg details the powerful Colorado regime that gained the games for Denver and the grassroots activism that brought down its Olympic dreams, and he explores the legacy of this milestone moment for the games and politics in the United States.

The ink was hardly dry on Denver’s host agreement when Mexican American and African American urbanites, white middle-class environmentalists, and fiscally concerned local politicians realized opposition to the Olympics provided them new political openings. The Olympics quickly became a platform for taking stands on a range of issues, from conservation to urban livability to the very idea of growth, which for decades had been unquestioned in Colorado. The Olympics That Never Happened argues that hostility to the Olympics galvanized and empowered diverse citizens in a major US city, with long-term ramifications for Colorado and political activism elsewhere. The Olympics themselves were changed forever, compelling organizers to take seriously competing interests from subgroups within their communities.

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