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Winter Games receive needed IOC boost

Winter Games receive needed IOC boost

A thumbs-up from the International Olympic Committee and an approved budget have given organizers of the Winter Games in Turin a welcome boost just 23 days before the start of the competition.

The organizing committee (TOROC) has had to contend with complaints about a lack of snow and a perceived lack of public interest as well as with concerns over the financing of the Games.

"All the venues are ready, the situation has improved greatly since the last visit by the FIS," said an upbeat Gilbert Felli, IOC Executive Director for the Olympic Winter Games, after an on-site inspection over the weekend.

Felli made the comments from Sestriere after accusations by the International Ski Federation about the lack of snow in the main alpine skiing site.

Helmuth Schmalzl, FIS head of safety for the downhills, did a reconnaissance of the Olympic slopes on January 7 and reported on the lack of snow in the high part of the mens downhill and the risk of danger in the ski lift area because of the lack of snow cover.

But Felli, an ex-racer in the Swiss national ski team, retorted: "The start is fine, the snow cannons have blasted a good snow covering.

"I would say that everything has been sorted out and that (when) this week Schmalzl goes back and checks the track, I am convinced that he will find everything in order.

"With less than a month from the start of the Olympic Winter Games, I am very satisfied."

Such praise would be welcome relief for TOROC, which has also managed to secure a final approved budget for the Games after months of delays.

"Starting from this evening we can concentrate heart and soul on preparing for this great event," TOROC president Valentino Castellani said after the budget was passed on Monday.

Costs are expected to be 1.223 million euros, while income is set at 1.182 million. The City of Turin has pledged to cover the deficit of 41 million euros, TOROC said.

In a further financial boost, TOROC chief executive officer Cesare Vaciago said tickets worth 52 million euros, representing 81 percent of the estimated revenues from ticket sales in the budget, had already been sold.

"In the approved budget we estimated banking 64 million euros in ticket sales," he said. "A prudent estimate which we are sure we shall exceed."

Updated : 2021-07-24 19:49 GMT+08:00