Rome’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games could be in jeopardy following the election of Virginia Raggi, a candidate who campaigned as an opponent of the project. She won decisively by a two-to-one margin.
Raggi is a member of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement party, and while campaigning for the position, repeatedly outlined her opposition to the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid. She defeated a candidate from the Democratic party of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who has been a strong supporter of the bid.
The new mayor can now opt out of the bid but it seems more likely that she will call a referendum and leave it up to the public to decide – the Italian Radical Party has already been pushing for the vote and is in the process of collecting the required 30,000 signatures.
A recent poll by SWG revealed that 77 per cent in Rome were for the Olympic bid – only 56 per cent strongly in favor – and 23 per cent are opposed. But even when polling numbers are positive, Olympic referendums have a poor track record across Europe with Hamburg’s 2024 bid the most recent victim last year when it lost by the narrowest of margins and was forced to withdraw from the race.
Rome dropped out of the 2020 Olympic bid race after the then Prime Minister Mario Monti opted not to provide the required national government backing.
The 2024 bid has already received the backing of the existing Rome city council and the central government.
Roggi has said during the campaign that her priority, if elected, would be to “solve economic and political problems which blight our great city”, and suggested an Olympic bid could lead to the re-emergence of corruption.
Rome is bidding for the 2024 Games among Paris, Budapest and Los Angeles. The host city will be elected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in September 2017.