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3 Oct 2014
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James Cove, Utah.
In just under a year the Winter Olympics start in Salt Lake City in Utah - but some in the Olympic movement are worried that spectators will stay away because of the Mormon state's strict drinking laws. James Cove reports for Today from Utah.

In an unprecedented political move The Mayor of Salt Lake City has launched a campaign to get the liquor laws changed in time for the Games and a heated debate is now raging across the state.

Rocky Anderson, the Mayor of Salt Lake City says, "The liquor Laws are outmoded and out of date and we must change them if we want to attract international visitors to Utah for The Games".

All bars in Utah are private clubs and you have to be a member to get in. Alcohol can only be bought at state liquor stores, which are few and far between.

There are also some bizarre by-laws so, for example, in a restaurant the waiter is not allowed to offer the wine list to diners as this is deemed to be encouraging drinking. However he can give it to then if they ask for it.

On a Sunday in some bars you can't buy locally brewed beer that is 3.1% in strength, but you are able to buy imported beer that is much stronger.

The campaign to change the liquor laws is deeply dividing the Mormon state. Outside the Wallsberg church near the Olympic resort of Park City one lady told Today, "If people don't like our culture then they should stay at home; they should appreciate us for what we are".

But whatever the outcome Utah does not want the outside world to think it's impossible to get a drink. There is an old saying in Utah; "If you can't get a drink in Utah then you're simply not thirsty enough".

Listen - Will the Mormons take to drink for the Winter Olympics?

Mayor Rocky Anderson call for reform of drink laws.

British skier - "International visitors will not come unless Utah's image is changed to the outside world"
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