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Turin Olympic organizer to resign

Castellani is a former Mayor of the city of Turin

TURIN, Italy -- Valentino Castellani, chief organizer of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics, says that he will resign later this month, in the midst of a an internal power struggle for control of the Games.

Castellani, who heads the organizing committee TOROC, plans to submit his resignation at a board meeting on November 24.

The Italian government last month nominated Mario Pescante as overall supervisor for the event.

Pescante is culture ministry undersecretary and former head of the Italian Olympic Committee.

TOROC has been sharply criticized for a euro180million ($227 million) budget shortfall.

Pescante's position was confirmed in a meeting in Rome on Wednesday and Castellani said: "With the meeting last night in Rome, I believe TOROC is closing one era and opening another."

The former Mayor of Turin added: "The powers given to Pescante...represent a lack of confidence in the work done her up until now and, above all, in the capacity to continue it."

Lack of awareness

Preparations for the February 10-26, 2006, Games have also come under attack for a lack of public awareness in Italy.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge met Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi last month to press the government to step up support for the games and encourage state companies to sign up as sponsors.

The government responded by naming Pescante as supervisor, a position that Castellani felt came into direct conflict with his own mandate.

"That's it. It's not worth trying to work this way anymore," reacted Castellani. "You can't occupy a position of responsibility like mine and not have the faith and support of all the people who have a responsibility for organizing the Olympics."

There was no indication of who may succeed Castellani.

"We thank him for his work and hope the leadership issue will be swiftly resolved," IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said.

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