Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Torino 2006 Legacy Lives On (2)

Ten years on the beneficial effects of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin can be seen in the everyday life of the local population.
"Parking, orbital roads, aquaducts, sewers: the road system is incomparably better now and the citizens are glad to save time and money", explains Valter Marin, who in 2006 was the mayor of Pragelato, one of the ski stations for the Games. and is now president of Fondazione 20 Marzo, the organisation that manages the legacy of Turin 2006.
The metropolitana – the underground railway – was a dream since 1920 (the first tunnel was built in 1922), but it came true only in February 2006. "I think that the metro would have been built in any case, but the Winter Olympics gave an incredible acceleration to the project", adds Marin.
If the Giochi have been such a hit and if their legacy is still so persistent, part of the credit must be given to the torinesi and to their modus operandi. "We are Savoyards: if we make a commitment, we work hard to fulfil it. We are accurate, serious, meticulous". And very, very patient. For five years leading up to the Games, the city was a gigantic construction yard. "It’s true, we are good at waiting", Marin smiles. "But our patience is not unconditional - we expect to be kept informed, we have to know why we should suffer all those inconveniences". Their patience has certainly been rewarded: now Pragelato has 300 new jobs and its accommodation capacity has increased from 400 to 1600 beds.
For Marin, the greatest legacy of the Winter Olympics is not a venue or structure, but rather a general feeling. "In Italy we are famous for parochialism and Piemonte (the region of which Turin is the capital) is no exception. Before 2006, there were huge rivalries even between our small villages. Thanks to the Giochi we have learned to work as a team; to combine our desires and our needs. Also the political divisions within the same municipality have been overcome: there’s still a struggle, but without the old animosity". And this is a lasting, powerful legacy. "For example, a few days ago Pragelato and other villages had to join forces to secure European Union funds, and we did it without any difficulties", Only 10 years ago this sort of symbiosis was unimaginable.
There are also more tangible signs of how the Giochi Invernali changed the city, its atmosphere and the way it is perceived in the world. Most of the structures built for the Winter Olympics have been successfully reconverted. The Palasport Olimpico which hosted the final of the ice hockey tournament is the most capacious indoor arena of the country. A futuristic jewel designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, it has played host to some of the world’s leading musical acts from U2 to Madonna. "During those concerts, all the hotels of city were sold out: this is a good example of how a single building can benefit all the area", says Daniele Donati, the general manager of Parcolimpico, the operational arm of Fondazione 20 Marzo, which manages all the Olympic real estate such as the Palasport Olimpico, the Palavela and the Oval Lingotto.
Turin 2006 has been such a success story that it now has fans all over the world keen to tap into the knowledge acquired from the city’s Olympic experience. A delegation from the Chinese capital Beijing, which will host the Winter Olympics in 2022 is the latest of many to come and learn from a city that swapped a grey past for a rainbow of winning ideas.

Torino 2006. Marketing Report.

Torino 2006 Official Report. Vol. 1

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