The Italian city of Turin was awarded the 2006 Winter Games this morning in the first selection of an Olympic host since the Salt Lake City scandal.

Turin upset the Swiss favorite, Sion, in the final vote by the International Olympic Committee.

The race came down to a contest between two sharply different candidates -- Sion, a provincial capital of 26,000 in the heart of the Swiss Alps, and Turin, the northern Italian industrial city of 2.2 million.

Turin, making its first bid, will bring the Winter Olympics to Italy for the first time since the 1956 Games in Cortina D'Ampezzo.

The result marked the third defeat for Sion, which failed in previous bids for the 1976 and 2002 Winter Games. The last time Switzerland staged the games was in 1948 in St. Moritz.

As a result of the Salt Lake scandal, IOC members were banned from visiting the 2006 bid cities, and the voting process was changed to allow a "selection college" to narrow the field to two.

IOC officials said the new rules were designed to make the system "fireproof" against any form of corruption or improper influence.

While Sion had been the front-runner from the start, delegates said Turin made a strong impression in Friday's presentation to the IOC assembly.

In a head-to-head final between Sion and Turin, the Swiss feared the vote could be swung by the strong Italian lobby in the IOC and possible bloc support from other Latin countries. The ban on member visits had been seen as an advantage for Sion, which played host to more than 60 IOC members during the 2002 bid. The Swiss said they had a vastly improved bid this time.

Four cities were eliminated earlier from the all-European race: Helsinki; Klagenfurt, Austria; Poprad-Tatry, Slovakia and Zakopane, Poland.