An Italian Carabinieri paramilitary police officer stands guard in front of Turin's Olympic stadium, one of the venues where the Feb. 10-26 2006 Winter Olympic games will be held, Friday, Jan. 27, 2006. During a briefing Italian Interior Ministry official
Photo credit: AP Photo/Massimo Pinca
A banner for the Olympic Games hangs on the side fencing as a security guard opens a gate next to the tribune in the finish area for men's alpine skiing, in the village of Sestriere, northern Italy.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Kevin Frayer
Italian police were tightening security at Turin's Olympic venues Monday, saying preparations were going smoothly though some locals complained they were not receiving the same protection given to Winter Games sites.
With the opening ceremonies on Feb. 10, hundreds of police, paramilitary Carabinieri, soldiers and volunteers already were guarding entrances to the Olympic village, the Oval speedskating venue, the main media center and the nearby Lingotto complex, a former factory of automaker Fiat turned into a cultural and commercial hub.
The media center and the adjoining mall also crawled with uniformed officers, and workers who tried to bypass security checks were sent to join the line.
For some residents, however, the display of force around the Olympic district meant less security for the general population.
"Where I live they didn't even come to plow the snow, let's not even talk about police," said Gloria Mulatero, a bank worker standing with hundreds of people in line Monday for free tickets to rock concerts planned in the historic Piazza Castello after the medal ceremonies.
Officials at the office of the Turin prefect, the top security authority for the city, said security had been boosted around the city as well as the Olympic venues.
Schoolteacher Maria Cristina Fuser, who came to shop with her family at the Lingotto mall, said that when she arrived she saw so many police she thought "something had happened."
Italy has assigned more than 9,000 officers to the Olympics. The Interior Ministry said last week that some 5,500 were in place.
Police at the venues in Turin said security was running smoothly, though some problems persisted.
At one media village hosting journalists in the north of Turin, two private guards checked credentials, but access was unrestricted at another less than a kilometer (half a mile) away.
At the Oval, in the Lingotto area, a large section of a perimeter fence appeared unguarded Sunday, and one gate was left ajar though it was locked with a loose-fitting chain.
Officers complained they had not received a promised winter uniform and had to stand guard in the cold with only a light jacket.
Organizers for the Olympics also faced other last-minute challenges, with snow causing an unused security tent outside the Lingotto complex to collapse into a busy road Saturday.
Workers raced to repave some areas and finish venues, contributing to the traffic. Special lanes set aside for Olympic vehicles were being clogged by parked cars.