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VANOC outlines plan to protect Olympic brand

Athens 2004 debriefing holds lessons for 2010 Games organizers

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Part of that solution, he said, was the possibility of a national lottery to help raise funds.

"The government is talking about and thinking about organizing a lottery for financing the Games and to push some companies to become sponsors," said Gattino.

The Torino organizing committee (TOROC) is also hoping to get deals in place with state-run companies to help shore up the budget shortfall.

"This situation is of course a difficult one but as we still have 15 months in front of us and we have confidence it can be solved," said Gattino. "The national government, local and a national institutions, and TOROC are all working to find a solution to reduce expenses and to find new funds so the issue in general terms is under control."

However, the Italian government was so concerned about the budget shortfall it appointed its own supervisor, cultural ministry undersecretary Mario Pescante. That created it’s own crisis and TOROC chief Valentino Castellani then threatened to resign over the appointment, believing it showed a lack of confidence in his leadership.

On Tuesday this week, however, Castellani, withdrew his threat to resign later this month, saying he had reached an understanding that would allow him to stay on as head of TOROC.

Gattino said the shortage of funds will not affect the completion of the venues nor will it mean an increase in taxes for Italians.

"It is not a problem of not making some events or other things like that," he said. "This is not the money needed for building the venues, it is needed for organizing the Games.

"But there will be no new taxes on a local or national basis to finance the Winter Games, absolutely not."

The Torino venues are almost complete with most test events set to take place between January and March 2005. Bobsled and luge events will take place in January and the European Championships in short track skating and figure skating will also be held that month. Hockey and speed skating test events are set to take place in the fall of 2005.

The real challenge facing the country at the moment is getting the people excited about the Games, which will run Feb. 10 to 26, 2006. Most people are avid fans of soccer, said Gattino, with only those who live close to the mountains or in and around Torino voicing their enthusiasm for the event.