28 March 2006
The Olympics are truly over now that the Paralympics have come and gone. Someone asked me if the Paralympics visitors were as exciting of a group as the Olympics.
Well, I would have to say there was no comparison really, as it was a much smaller amount of people, but certainly an action packed week as well. Through out the 9 days, we had a number of Spain's down hill visually impaired team's family members, ex wives, husbands, guides, guides families, girlfriends, fiances who hadn't met their future father in law till breakfast, guide's girlfriends, and boyfriends, and even one of the competitors, who took silver and bronze medals.
We were never quite sure how many people were staying due to short notice bookings and ever changing set of circumstances.
We had a last minute (and I do mean last minute, 4 hours notice) luncheon for 17 Spanish competitors family members, complete with a bit of snow to spice up the goings ons.
Coordinating groups, especially in different languages and
getting the particulars concrete, is never a straight forward task, let alone in English, Italian, Spanish and a bit of French to boot, least we should forget Catalanyan from the ones who thought we understood everything.
It was another wonderful experience if not a little less grand scale than before, but just enough drama to keep it spiced up. The tv coverage of the games was quite sparse, and the change of the closing ceremonies from the stadium to medals plaza with no Italian TV coverage, was appalling. A smal local French station showed it in it's entirety as well as the games themselves thru ought the week. Rai television should really be ashamed of it's lack of interest! Our local evening news reports were quite inspiring as the enthusiasm was quite palpable. It was fantastic to see the venues packed, unlike the regular Olympics.
I think the 12 euro ticket prices might have had something to do with it, and the fact that many Italians had stayed away from the games believing the crowds and prices to be prohibitive.
You can thank the IOC and TOROC for those Olympic prices. You could hear the cheering that was sometimes missing from the regular Olympics due to lack of sufficient numbers of people and perhaps because a lot of the crowds for the Paralymics were school children. It seems the schools took the children to experience many of the events. That was great to see, especially their enthusiasm and high spirits. The effort and sacrifice for the Paralympians is no less great than the regular Olympians and their families, so it was great to see the crowds and local spirit that we know resides here!