- Title: ITALY: Turin prepares for the Winter Olympics opening
- Date: 10th February 2006
- Summary: WIDE OF PEOPLE ON OPEN AIR SKATING RING IN CENTRE OF TURIN; YOUNG WOMEN SKATING
- Embargoed: 25th February 2006 12:00
- Location: Italy
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA2PCZQL9LP4H6FGZDXH84CJZ1Q
- Story Text: Final preparations are underway for the arrival of
thousands of athletes and at least 15 visiting foreign leaders
in Turin for the Winter Olympics, which start with the
opening ceremony at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Friday.
Wary of both terrorist threats and anti-globalisation
protesters, Italy has deployed thousands of police, snipers
and armed skiers to patrol the slopes, venues and living
quarters of athletes staying in Turin and villages in the nearby Alps.
No flights will be permitted in or out of Turin's
Caselle airport from 6:45 p.m. (1745 GMT) to 11:15 p.m.
(2215 GMT) on Friday, airport operator Sagat said in a
statement. Exceptions will be made for aircraft carrying
dignitaries or emergency teams.
Security forces will be on maximum alert during the
Games to protect such dignitaries as Laura Bush and her
daughter Barbara, due in Turin on Friday after stopping in
Rome and U.S. air base in Aviano, Italy.
Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, British Prime
Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie Blair and King Juan
Carlos of Spain were also expected to attend the opening ceremony.
In addition to some 9,000 police, Italy will deploy
1,350 skiers from its special Alpine force to patrol and
groom the slopes during the Games, as well as 400 parachutists.
Ticket sales for the Winter Olympics have sped up
as the clock ticks down to Friday's opening ceremony, a
spokeswoman for organisers TOROC said on Wednesday.
But it is still some 80,000 short of the 800,000
tickets needed to meet its revenue target of 64 million
euros for the Games, which run from Feb. 10-26.
"Sports like figure skating and speed skating are
almost totally sold out while there are a few more left for
things like the hockey heats," said the spokeswoman.
It was not yet clear, she added, how close TOROC was to
meeting the revenue target but last-minute orders were
piling in from the United States, Canada and Russia.
Earlier this week, TOROC chairman Valentino Castellani
said organisers had sold over 700,000 tickets.
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