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  • Protests, $ Woes Shadow Turin Olympics


    The ranks of protestors against the high speed rail has grown in the past week. 
    (ATR) The specter of protests during the Turin Olympics is growing, while organizers of the Games have been forced to call off a board of directors meeting while they wait for a government decision on money.

    Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was to have an emergency cabinet meeting today to deal with the rising tide of protests in Val de Susa, west of Turin, near mountain venues for the Games.

    Protestors, reported to number in the tens of thousands, have blocked roads in the area to demonstrate their opposition to a high speed rail line under construction between France and Lyon. Protestors fear pollution from the construction and encroachment of development in the largely unspoiled region.

    "We need a truce to save the Olympics," TOROC President Valentino Castellani told the Italian press Friday. "I am very worried."

    "It would take only a handful of violent protesters to disrupt the Games," he said.

    Protestors and police have been injured in clashes through the week, as the number of protestors have swelled to 40,000, according to police.

    Meanwhile, plans for a TOROC board of directors meeting have been postponed from Dec. 20 to early
    January. CEO Cesare Vaciago says TOROC is waiting to find out if the government will provide all of the $48 million in funding still needed to complete preparations for the Games.

    IOC President Jacques Rogge, speaking Friday in Turin, says he is confident about the 2006 Olympics, now just 62 days away.

    "I am confident that, working as a team, all those involved will complete the final preparations to the very high standard of all that has been achieved so far," Rogge said.

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