The Torino 2006 Olympics got underway with a spectacular opening ceremony February 10. It was a very Italian event with everyone from Dante, Fellini and Botticelli playing a part at the gala. The XX Olympic Winter Games were held Friday, February 10 through Sunday, February 26.
Italy’s Olympic History
The 2006 Winter Olympics were the third Olympic Games to be held in Italy. The first were the 1956 Winter Games held in Cortina d’Ampezzo and the second were the 1960 summer games held in Rome. Interestingly, Italy had been awarded the 1908 Olympics but had to pass after the 1906 eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Torino, Italy is the second largest city ever to host the Olympic Winter Games with around 900,000 residents in the city and over 2.2 million in the surrounding area. The largest winter Olympics host is Vancouver (2010) and Salt Lake City is the third largest (2002).
Only seven countries have hosted the Olympic Winter Games more than once. The US has been host 4 times (Squaw Valley, Salt Lake City and Lake Placid twice). France has hosted three times and Austria, Japan, Norway and Switzerland two times each.
Facts about the 2006 Winter Olympics & the Host City Torino
• The Torino 2006 Olympics had three official languages: Italian, English and French
• Torino was selected as host for the Torino 2006 Olympics over Klagenfurt, Austria; Helsinki, Finland; Zakopane, Poland; Poprad – Tatry; Slovakia and Sion, Switzerland
• Torino was awarded the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in 1999 in Seoul, Soouth Korea
• There were 14 Olympic venues (9 outdoor venues and 5 indoor venues)
• There were 15 sports and 84 medal events, the same as in 2002
• New sports were the men’s 15 km mass start and the women’s 12.5 km mass start in the biathlon, men’s and women’s team sprints in cross-country skiing, men’s and women’s snowboard cross and men’s and women’s team pursuits in speed skating
• Four sports have appeared in every Winter Olympic Games – bobsled, ice hockey, skiing and skating
• The first medals awarded at the Torino 2006 Olympics were in the men’s 20 km individual biathlon on Saturday, February 11 and the final medals were awarded to the winners of the men’s ice hockey game on Sunday, February 26.
• Approximately, twenty-six thousand people volunteered at both the Olympics and Paralympics
• Ten thousand members of the media covered the Torino 2006 Olympics
• 80 nations participated in the Torino 2006 Olympics with and over 2,600 athletes competing
• Belarus awarded medalists brand new cars. Italy, the Czech Republic, Japan and Australia gave winners a monetary reward
• The largest delegations were from the US, Canada, Italy, Russia and Germany
The 2006 Winter Olympics Gold Medal Count
Torino Tourism Benefits for Hosting the Olympics
There is some evidence to suggest that the 2006 Olympics resulted in increased tourism to Torino.
Torino was always known as an industrial city, however, after the Olympics it became a tourist destination. Torino is now the fourth visited city after Rome, Florence and Venice. The city continues to host sporting events as well as business conferences.
Much of this growth is thought to have come from infrastructure improvements made for the Games.