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Shelley Osterloh reportingThe Athens Olympic Games of 2004 have officially ended. The Cauldron is dark, the flame extinguished.
But Shelley Osterloh is already looking ahead.
Near the end of the closing ceremony, Athens handed off to Bejing - site of the next Summer Games. But the next Winter Games are in Torino, and Italian organizing officials say they will be ready -- thanks to lessons learned from Athens and especially Salt Lake City.
No need to worry, the Italians say about whether facilities will be ready. Construction of all but the Bobsled course are ahead of schedule and will be ready for test events --some this winter.
Many members of the Torino Olympic Organizing committee are in Athens to learn. But many more were in Salt Lake. The President of TOROC says he learned two very important things from the Salt Lake Games. President Valentino Castellani, Torino Organizing Committee: "First of all the extraordinary experience of the volunteers that was in Salt Lake. It was one of the best that I saw in the last years."
Torino hopes to enlist the help of more than 20-thousand volunteers for its Games. And while the Athens Olympics have come in severely over-budget, Torino looks again to Salt Lake City as the example.
President Valentino Castellani, Torino Organizing Committee: "The careful work that they did in selecting the allocation of resources on the 'must have' things, to the nice way of things you know. Which is an important way of controlling the budget, so we learned a lot."
And while Athens suffered from poor attendance at some events and low numbers of foreign visitors, Torino organizers are not at all worried.
They say their city is in the center of a region that loves winter sports and several countries are within a four hour drive of events. And he hopes many Americans will come and again enjoy the thrill of Winter Olympics as they did in Salt Lake.
The games here in Athens may be over, but the countdown has begun --- just 530 days to the Winter Olympic Games in Tornino.