The three Olympic villages that will house some 5,000 athletes and officials during the Winter Games opened Tuesday, just over a week before the &to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/365/16558_Turin.html' target=_blank>Turin opening ceremony.
IOC member Manuela Di Centa, a former Olympic cross-country skiing champion, cut the red ribbon for the main village at a ceremony in Turin. Di Centa will serve as mayor of the complex, which opened as the Olympic torch crossed into the Piedmont region.
Swimmer Domenico Fioravanti, winner of two Olympic golds at Sydney in 2002, was among the torchbearers as the flame arrived in Novara.
About 100 people, mostly Olympic volunteers and media, attended the ceremony, which came hours before the a group of Italian and Chinese athletes became the first to arrive.
The Turin complex, spread over about 100,000 square meters (107,000 sq feet), is the largest of the villages for the Feb. 10-26 games.
Its 39 buildings, painted the colors of the Olympic rings, were built over the past two years around a former central market and will host about 2,500 people. The village also has shops, restaurants, gyms and medical services.
A village in the Alpine town of Bardonecchia will host about 700 people involved in biathlon, snowboard and freestyle skiing. Another village in Sestriere _ at an altitude of 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) _ has space for 2,000 athletes taking part in Alpine skiing events.
The Russian missile cruiser Varyag, which is currently staying in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, blocked the US Navy aircraft carrier strike group in the Adriatic Sea