Turin Olympic budget approved

The final budget for next month’s Winter Olympics was approved yesterday, covering an 80-million-euro shortfall that had caused months of delays. The vote had been scheduled for last month and was further delayed last week while the Turin organizing committee (TOROC) finalized last-minute sponsorships and other plans to cover the gap. The approved budget – covering the operating costs for the February 10-26 Games – totals 1.182 billion euros. Overall spending – including construction – is estimated at more than 3 billion euros. No more alarm «Alarmism was creating turbulence and confusion. Approving the budget has distanced us from these risks,» TOROC CEO Cesare Vaciago said, referring to reports that TOROC could have faced bankruptcy proceedings if the budget was not approved. TOROC President Valentino Castellani said the committee could now breathe «a sigh of relief.» «Of course, we won’t know what the final numbers are until after the Games. But this was an important step today,» he said. The plans to cover the shortfall include a scratch-card lottery that should produce 20 million euros. City and local authorities are slated to chip in upward of 40 million euros, helped by the sale of 200 apartments in the athletes’ village. Another 20 million euros will come from the Piedmont region that includes Turin. Castellani said 20 million euros in contingency funds were included in the budget. Games government supervisor Mario Pescante is still working to end haggling over how Italy’s anti-doping law will be applied at the Olympics. He said a meeting was planned for Thursday with the Health Ministry and others «to resolve this soap opera.» Ceremony preview Away from the business side, a preview of the Olympiad’s closing ceremony, on February 26, was attended by about 200 people in a Milan theater yesterday. Federico Fellini-inspired clowns, acrobats and high-wire acts will perform. The circus theme will also include aspects from Italy’s winter Carnival, a masked celebration based in Venice each February. Actual costumes featured in Fellini’s 1971 film «The Clowns» will be used. They were made by Academy Award-winning designer Danilo Donati. Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will perform and Canadian rocker Avril Lavigne will sing during the handover to organizers of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. The «Sparks of Passion» bladers – futuristic performers zipping around on roller blades – will make their final appearance. They are also due to feature in the February 10 opening ceremony. Before the flame is put out, the final medals will be awarded for the men’s 50-kilometer cross-country ski race. As for future Winter Olympiads, the mayor of Grenoble in France, Michel Destot, said yesterday that he wanted to launch a bid for his city, which successfully hosted the 1968 Games, to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. «I hope to launch Grenoble’s bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics: It’s an event that can mobilize all the elected people and mayors no matter their political persuasion,» said Destot, a Socialist. He said that a poll after the International Olympic Committee’s decision to award London the 2012 Summer Olympics ahead of Paris showed that 75 percent of Grenoble residents approved the city’s bid for the Winter Games. Grenoble was a candidate for the 2014 Winter Olympics but its bid was submitted with no fanfare to avoid having any bearing on Paris’s ill-fated bid. (AP, AFP)

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