Rome 2024
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Rome 2024 Olympic bid puts Colosseum, Circus Maximus to use

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ROME (AP) — A cycling sprint alongside the Roman Forum. Beach volleyball at the Circus Maximus. The marathon passing through St. Peter’s Square and finishing under the Arch of Constantine. A nightly parade of athletes at the Colosseum.

Rome’s historic monuments are at the center of the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympics, details of which were revealed Wednesday as four candidates including the Italian capital submitted their first detailed bid files to the International Olympic Committee.

“Customer satisfaction is fundamental for the athletes, their families and the spectators,” bid chief and former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said. “Here they will be able to take in the culture and touch things with their hands that maybe they have only seen on TV or studied in school.”

At an extravagant presentation produced by the same company handling ceremonies for this year’s Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Rome organizers also revealed their bid theme – “The Italian art of the welcome.”

“We want to offer athletes’ families the chance to travel by train to Florence and admire the Uffizi Gallery and then go to Naples and Pompeii the next day – for free,” Montezemolo said. “Who else can offer that?”

The IOC will select the 2024 host city in September 2017. Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest, Hungary, are the other bidders.

Promoting Italy’s artistic heritage, Montezemolo announced that composer Ennio Morricone – of “Spaghetti Western” fame – would create the bid’s anthem.

Relying on many venues that were used for the 1960 Games in Rome, the candidacy proposes using existing structures for 70 percent of the required sites. The games budget is projected at 5.3 billion euros ($6 billion) – 2.1 billion euros for the construction of permanent venues and the balance for temporary venues.

Permanent venues would include an athletes village and multi-sports arena at the Tor Vergata University on the city’s outskirts, media facilities and a cycling velodrome.

The temporary venues could largely be covered by IOC contributions, organizers said.

Rome has already signed sponsorship contracts with Etihad-Alitalia airlines, the banks BNL-BNP Paribas and insurer UnipolSai , said Montezemolo, who’s also president of Alitalia.

Organizers said the games would create 177,000 jobs and contribute 2.9 billion euros in economic benefits for the area.

The bid is based on three clusters: the existing Stadio Olimpico and surrounding Foro Italico complex for athletics and swimming; the Fiera convention center near the airport for indoor sports; and Tor Vergata.

“If we had the opening ceremony tomorrow at the Stadio Olimpico, we could then host athletics or swimming immediately,” Montezemolo said. “We’re ready.”

Diving would be held in the statue-studded Pietrangeli tennis arena while tennis is slated for a temporary hard-court facility in Tor Vergata.

The media centers would be built in Saxa Rubra, headquarters of Italian state TV Rai.

The small, left-wing movement Radicali Italiani is calling for a public referendum on the bid, citing spiraling costs of recent games.

Nino Benvenuti, a boxing gold medalist in 1960, was a guest of honor at the presentation, which drew a crowd of thousands that also included Marcello Lippi, coach of the Italy team that won the 2006 World Cup.

PHOTOS: Paris 2024 Olympic bid venue renderings include Eiffel Tower

World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

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Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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