The Winter Olympic Games have begun, in and around the city of Turin in northern Italy. Every host city hopes that the Olympics will bring some benefit.As VOA's Brian Padden reports, the stakes are higher for Turin than for many of its predecessors.
During the Olympics thousands of people will visit the beautiful mountains outside of the city of Turin in northern Italy. Those working in the local tourist industry, like Maria Louisa Suraco, hope visitors will like what they see. "I hope they will ask information and come back to visit us in the summer".
In addition to the visitors, over two billion television viewers will see both the rustic mountain villages and the historic city of Turin for the first time. The Olympics, says City Director of Strategic Planning Paolo Verri, is an opportunity to project a modern high-tech image that will attract students to its universities and new businesses to the region.
"Our hope for the future is to become one of the capitals of knowledge in Europe."
Hosting the Olympics is part of a long-term plan to transform the city after the car manufacturer Fiat, which at one time employed over 150,000 people, closed its operations in Turin.
Paolo Verri says this historic city, which was the capital of Italy 150 ago, has focused on improving roads and telecommunications lines to secure its future.
"In the next five years we will have the infrastructure that could connect business culture and leisure very well over Europe. That's our target for the Olympics."
For the city of Turin, the Olympics is a competition for jobs and investment.