(ATR) Turin Olympic organizers found out this weekend the impact a small band of protestors could have on access to events during the 2006 Olympics. Two hundred Fiat workers snarled access to the Palavela, site of the European Figure Skating Championships.
The protestors showed up unannounced at the main entrance to the venue to protest possible outsourcing of their jobs. The Palavela entrance was closed down for security reasons and, although no violence was reported, access to the venue was halted and then proceeded slowly for several hours.
Things were back to normal on Saturday, the final day of competition. Traffic around the Palavela was normal and special Alpine troops of the Italian Army checked vehicles after a first line of local police and Olympic volunteers admitted them inside the gates.
The public is not allowed to park at the Palavela yet as construction around the venue is still going on.
TOROC president Valentino Castellani, himself on the way to the Palavela, stopped briefly to meet protest leaders, who asked that a statement be read to the public inside the venue. A TOROC spokesman proceeded to read the workers' demands over the Palavela loudpseakers. "We wanted to bring your attention without being disrespectful to this event," said the statement in Italian.
Despite the protest the skating event went on without problems, said a TOROC official speaking at the Palavela.
While this kind of protest could cause disruptions at the Olympics, security will be tighter at the Games, said the Turin Olympic official.
Turin mayor and TOROC board member Sergio Chiamparino who spoke to the workers, vowed to fight alongside them. If they lose their Fiat jobs, he assured them, "I will come lie down with you on railroad tracks," a form of protest often used by Italian industrial workers when factories close down.
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