Contrary to suggestions that the Winter Olympics were held too far from the mountains, Torino may in fact have shown the way towards even �greener' games, the head of the United Nations environmental agency said.

“Indeed locating more and more Olympic events away from sensitive rural areas and into city centres with good access to public transport - especially if this contributes to urban renewal and renovation of redundant buildings and structures - may be an environmentally sound step forward for future games,” UN Environment Programe (UNEP) Executive Director Klaus Toepfer added.

Seeking to lessen the adverse ecological impact of major world sporting events, UNEP has in recent years signed several agreements with host countries and cities to promote environmentally friendly games.

“By locating in the city centre several key events, such as figure skating or ice hockey, along with accommodation for athletes and the media, the organizers have dramatically increased the likelihood that these buildings and structures will be sustainably used in the future for sports, other leisure activities and housing,” Mr. Toepfer said of last month’s Winter Olympics.

The director of UNEP’s Division of Communications and Public Information added: “We have been most impressed with the environmental measures and commitments made by the TOROC (the Torino organizing committee) from their climate change initiatives and dedication, to the use of local stone and wood up to their adoption of ‘green’ environment management systems.”


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