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Tickets for Torino Olympics now available

Whistler Chamber considering putting together packages for locals

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Itching to see a preview of what Whistler will look like when the 2010 Winter Olympics come to town?

Then get out your credit cards, as tickets for the Torino Winter Olympics in 2006 will go on sale for Canadians in the next few days.

Europeans could start buying their tickets yesterday for the Games, which run from Feb. 10 to Feb. 26 2006.

"So far thousands of people interested in tickets have registered here in an international data bank," said Lisa Caudana, international ticket sales manager for the Torino organizing committee (TOROC).

Many Canadians are among them, she said, as there is great interest in hockey, alpine skiing and curling. Tickets for hockey are likely to sell out quickly, along with other popular events such as the opening ceremony, speed skating, ski jumping, and the alpine skiing events.

Canadians can buy tickets through Cosport, a New Jersey-based company which has the right for ticket sales and other hospitality services for the Torino Games, the Beijing Summer Games in 2008, B.C.’s own 2010 Games, and the 2012 Summer Games.

To purchase tickets go to www.cosport.com or phone 1-877-457-4647. Canada has been given an allotment of tickets for every event.

"The phones have been ringing off the hook here," said Cosport president Matt Bijur.

Of the more than one million tickets that have been released about 35 per cent are reserved for the National Olympic Committees, sponsors, international sports federations, and the media.

More than half the tickets to the Feb. 10-26, 2006 Games are between $31 Cdn and $77 Cdn.

The cheapest tickets are for biathlon, cross-country, curling, freestyle and preliminary women's hockey. Prices for men's hockey begin at $62 Cdn for the cheapest preliminary-round games and go as high as $542 Cdn for the gold-medal game. Opening ceremony tickets will cost between $387 Cdn and $1,318 Cdn.

Seats for the opening ceremony at the 2010 Games will sell between $120 and $1,100. Tickets will start at $30 for many of the events.

Torino ticket sales are expected to raise more than $116 million Cdn, the third-largest source of income after TV rights and sponsorships.

The tickets will be sold in two phases both overseas and in Canada, with the first one ending in December. Ticket purchasers can put in their requests for events during this period and at the end of the phase ticketing agents will look at all the requests and hand out the tickets. That way those who do not have access to the Internet or want to research their choices do not lose out by applying in the coming weeks.

"It is a fair process," said Caudana.

Tickets can also be bought in packages and those are not subject to the request phase process. So if people are concerned about not getting tickets for a particular event it may be best to buy a package now said Bijur. In February Cosport will also offer ticket packages which include accommodation and transportation.

John Nadeau, president of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, said the organization is considering putting together packages, through an agent, for locals interested in gong to the 2006 Games.

Meanwhile TOROC officials are counting on the torch relay, which starts in Rome next month to help build enthusiasm inside Italy for the Games.

"This is a main challenge for TOROC making the whole country support the Games," said spokesman Giuseppe Gattino.

He also downplayed concerns that the organizing committee might be short of cash after it was revealed last month that it needed about $281 million Cdn.

"We are confident we will have a solution before the end of the year," said Gattino adding that it’s likely the funds will come from cost-saving measures and more national and local sponsorships.

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