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Olympic Coverage - An International Affair


At just about any time of the day, a cacophony of sound from a multitude of languages echoes through the Main Media Center in Turin, Italy. It is the sound of reporters from dozens of different countries attempting to accomplish the same goal - keeping their audiences up to date on what is happening at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

It starts early in the morning, whether you are in the cafeteria having breakfast or on the bus on the way to a venue. People speaking Italian, Russian, Chinese, English, Korean, German, Japanese and other languages fill the air with a virtual riot of sound.

Giuseppe Gattino, the head of media relations for the Turin Olympic Committee, told VOA Sports the Games are being covered by the largest media contingent ever.

"If we talk about written press, we have a bit more than 3,000 written press journalists accredited to the Games," said Giuseppe Gattino. "Then we have our photographers, and a bit less than 7,000 people from television, which of course is a huge number. So it is the highest number of media covering the Games both for written press and for television."

Gattino says it has been a real challenge doing a good job meeting all the needs of the media in Turin.

"The media, they need technologies, they need accommodation, they need transportation so they need a number of services," he said. "Some of them like the televisions for example, the broadcasters, they pay for the rights. And at the same time for written press they do not pay, but they pay a lot for staying here. So it is a very important relationship and then we know the reputation of the Games depends on them somehow."

Despite their best efforts, Giuseppe Gattino says there have been a few bumps in the organizing, especially early in the Games. Zhou Jie, a Senior Editor for China's Xinhua News Agency told VOA he agrees with that assessment, but says things are running better now.

"In the first several days there were severe mess-ups, especially in telecommunications and everything," said Zhou Jie. "It needed coordination, but after several days everything is good. It is fine."

Though he has been too busy working to see the sights, Zhou says he would like to return to Turin and other cities in Italy.

"Turin is a very nice, a very good city," he said. "There are must-go places here. But the most interesting place for me is Rome. First of all I need to go to Rome and then maybe I will think of other places. I want to go to Venice too."

Though there have been a few rough spots, I agree with Zhou Jie that things are running smoothly now and that for the most part, the Turin organizers have done a very good job. Oh, and I would like to go to Venice too.

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