Bankruptcy fears for Turin Olympics

ROME (AP) – The organizing committee for the Turin Olympics could face bankruptcy procedures if a 64-million-euro shortfall is not covered, the government supervisor for the Games said yesterday. «It would be very serious, but nobody actually believes it will happen,» Mario Pescante told The Associated Press. «We’re hoping a Cabinet meeting tomorrow [today] will help us out.» Pescante said the government is still considering a scratch-card lottery game that could produce 20 million euros in revenues for the February 10-26 Games. Financial help from regional authorities and companies in the Turin area is also being sought. Italian media reported yesterday that a special commissioner – possibly Turin Mayor Sergio Chiamparino – could take over as emergency chairman of the organizing committee (TOROC) under the first step in bankruptcy procedures. That could happen if TOROC fails to approve its budget at a January 10 board meeting. Today marks 50 days to go before the opening ceremony, but the International Olympic Committee is not expressing a high level of concern. «The IOC does not currently expect any change in service levels for any of the important client groups at the Olympic Games, such as athletes, media or spectators,» IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said. TOROC chief Valentino Castellani has called another meeting for tomorrow about the situation, depending on the outcome of today’s Cabinet session. The shortfall stems from Italy’s draft budget for 2006, which does not include the government’s final 40-million-euro allocation to Olympic organizers. The budget draft also scrapped the scratch-card lottery game.