Rome 2024

Rome 2024
Rome 2024

Rome 2024 Olympic bid suspended, may be revived later

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ROME (AP) — Italy suspended Rome’s bid for the 2024 Olympics on Tuesday, forced to pull the plug because of the staunch opposition of the city’s mayor.

Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago said that he had written to the IOC announcing the decision to “interrupt the candidacy.”

While the letter left open a small possibility for a revival of the bid if there is a change in city government, Malago didn’t hold out much hope.

“Today the game is over. But if someone decides that the game isn’t over it’s not up to us. But today we’re ending the game,” Malago told The Associated Press after his announcement at a news conference. “That’s it.”

The move comes after Rome’s city council voted last month to withdraw support of the bid on the recommendation of Mayor Virginia Raggi.

“The bid committee is officially liquidated as of today,” Malago said. “It’s a big wound for us. I hope they realize how bad an impression we’ve made.”

The International Olympic Committee said it had “taken note” of the Italian decision and “will further explore with the candidature committee what this means.”

“All the circumstances and the information that we have received in the past days clearly demonstrate that this is about Italian politics only,” the IOC said.

Rome’s withdrawal leaves only Los Angeles, Paris, and Budapest, Hungary, in the running for the 2024 Games. The IOC will select the host city in September 2017.

It’s also the second time in four years that a Rome bid has been withdrawn or suspended. In 2012, then-premier Mario Monti scrapped the city’s bid for the 2020 Olympics because of financial concerns.

“I feel like I’ve been robbed of hope,” Rome bid vice president and Italian Paralympic Committee president Luca Pancalli said.

Hoping to regain the trust of the IOC, Malago said he was offering up Milan as host of the IOC session in 2019.

“This is the first step of Italy’s rehabilitation after this unacceptable interruption,” Malago said. “The other evening I had a chance to discuss this possibility with (IOC President) Thomas Bach and IOC general director Christophe De Kepper and there is ample support for this idea.”

“This is a way to turn the page and move on,” Malago added.

Raggi, who represents the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, said that taking on the costs of an Olympic bid is “irresponsible” for a city struggling to emerge from years of corruption and poor public services.

While Raggi wrote a letter to the IOC last month, IOC rules state that only the national Olympic committee can withdraw a candidacy.

“Anybody can write to the IOC but the only letter that counts is the one from the president of the Olympic committee,” Malago said.

Since being elected in June as Rome’s first female mayor, Raggi has had a rough first few months in office. Her administration was thrown into chaos after she dismissed her Cabinet chief and four other officials resigned.

A budget of 24 million euros ($27 million) had been allotted — much of it spent — to the 2024 candidacy, even though bid leader Luca Cordero di Montezemolo had no salary.

Malago compared Rome’s situation to Vancouver’s withdrawal six months before the 1980 Winter Games were awarded to Lake Placid in 1976. Vancouver had to wait 30 years to host the 2010 Winter Games.

“While it’s true that Canada had two games in the intervening years — Montreal (1976) and Calgary (1988) — I think Vancouver paid a big price for that decision,” Malago said. “Rome and Italy find themselves in a similar situation today.”

Still, the “interruption” of the bid is another signal that the IOC still has work to do to convince cities that hosting the games is a boon and not a burden.

Last month, a city government panel in Tokyo warned that the cost of the 2020 Olympics could exceed $30 billion, more than four times the initial estimates.

Voters in Hamburg rejected the German city’s 2024 bid in a referendum, and Boston dropped out last year amid a lack of public and political support and was replaced as the U.S. candidate by Los Angeles.

Four cities withdrew during the bidding for the 2022 Winter Games, leaving only two candidates in the field. Beijing, hardly known as a winter sports destination, defeated Almaty, Kazakhstan.

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IOC President not getting involved over ‘politics’ of Rome 2024 bid

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach isn’t getting involved in the “politics” surrounding Rome’s rejection of its 2024 Olympics bid.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Vatican convention on faith and sports, Bach says he has been informed of the Rome situation by Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago.

Bach says: “This is not up to me. I got this information about politics in Italy and I’m here to listen.”

He adds: “You can imagine that this was a very interesting conversation, because politics in Italy is a very interesting topic. So I learned a lot yesterday.”

Rome’s city council voted last week to withdraw the bid, backing the decision of Mayor Virginia Raggi. The bid is still supported by Italian Premier Matteo Renzi.

Malago says he will hold a news conference on the bid situation next week.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi rejects city’s 2024 Olympic bid

Rome 2024
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ROME (AP) — Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi rejected the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympics on Wednesday, effectively dooming the capital’s candidacy for the second time in four years.

If approved by the city assembly, Raggi’s rejection would leave only Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest, Hungary, in the running for the 2024 Games. The International Olympic Committee will decide on the host city in September 2017.

At a news conference in city hall, Raggi said it would be financially “irresponsible” to pursue the bid any further given the city is barely able to get its trash picked up. She also noted the debts that previous Olympic host cities have incurred.

“In light of the data we have, these Olympics are not sustainable. They will bring only debt,” Raggi said.

Raggi drew up a motion to withdraw the bid and put it before the city assembly Wednesday.

“It will be the city assembly, the sovereign body and democratically elected organ, that will express its position,” Raggi said. “We have illustrated our political position today. If it’s accepted by the assembly we’ll deal with the ensuing consequences (to formalize it.)”

Raggi had been scheduled to meet with Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago before going public with her decision. But 45 minutes after the meeting was scheduled to begin, Malago and the rest of the delegation left city hall saying Raggi hadn’t shown up. Malago was planning a news conference later at CONI headquarters.

Raggi, who was elected in June representing the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, campaigned with the message that an Olympic bid was unsustainable for a city struggling to emerge from years of corruption and poor public services. She said she was merely being consistent with her campaign position.

Her rejection marks Rome’s second withdrawal in four years after then-Premier Mario Monti stopped the city’s plans to bid for the 2020 Olympics because of financial problems.

The Rome bid was approved by the city assembly last year with 38 votes in favor and only six against – meaning Raggi may have to put the issue up for another vote to officially end the candidacy.

The IOC requires bidders to have support from the government and city.

Previous Mayor Ignazio Marino, who was forced out over an expense account scandal, had supported the bid. And Premier Matteo Renzi has been a big fan of the candidacy since he helped launch it in 2014. He has said the bid would be doomed if Rome’s mayor doesn’t support it.

A budget of 24 million euros ($27 million) has already been allotted – much of it spent – to the bid committee, even though candidacy head Luca Cordero di Montezemolo has no salary.

The bid is slated to be centered around Rome’s historic monuments: a cycling sprint alongside the Roman Forum, beach volleyball at the Circus Maximus and the marathon passing through St. Peter’s Square and finishing under the Arch of Constantine. Plus, a nightly parade of athletes at the Colosseum.

Relying on many venues that were used for the 1960 Olympics in Rome, the candidacy proposes using existing structures for 70 percent of the required sites. The 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.

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 an athletes village and multi-sports arena at the Tor Vergata University on the city’s outskirts.

A withdrawal would be another clear signal that the IOC still has a lot of work to do to convince cities that hosting the games is a boon and not a burden.

Voters in Hamburg rejected the German city’s 2024 bid in a referendum. Boston also dropped out last year amid a lack of public and political support and was replaced by Los Angeles.

It could also be another stinging blow for the IOC’s “Olympic Agenda 2020” program, which was designed to make bidding for and hosting the games more flexible and more affordable.

The reforms were aimed at avoiding a repeat of the bidding for the 2022 Winter Games, which was depleted by the withdrawal of four cities – Stockholm; Oslo; Lviv, Ukraine; and Krakow, Poland – for political or financial reasons. Many politicians and taxpayers were scared off by the billions spent by Russia on the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

Planned 2022 bids by Munich and St. Moritz-Davos in Switzerland were dropped earlier. With only two final contenders for 2022, Beijing defeated Almaty, Kazakhstan, in the IOC vote last year.

Raggi, a 38-year-old lawyer who is Rome’s first female mayor, said during her candidacy that the city needed to focus on ordinary issues before it should consider “extraordinary events” like the Olympics.

Raggi has had a rough start since taking office, with her administration falling into disarray over a spate of resignations and judicial inquiries.

During her campaign, Raggi promised to fix Rome’s transport, garbage and corruption scandals.

MORE: 2024 Olympic bidding news