In an online piece Saturday linked to the populist Five Star movement, the party’s founder Beppe Grillo voiced his opposition to Rome’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, further solidifying the widespread belief that the project is in its final days. Rome’s Mayor Virginia Raggi was elected in June as part of the opposition movement and must endorse the bid before October 7 if Rome’s Olympic dreams are to remain viable.
In an editorial on Grillo’s blog entitled “The Games in Rome? No thank you!”, party lawmaker Elio Lannutti said the Games would only serve to condemn the city’s young “to debt and act as a powerful arm of massive distraction”.
Saturday Prime Minister Renzi struck back at the party’s stand, denying that the money used to host the Games could be better spent. He said, “I am proud to be Italian but I am sad when my country refuses to take up a challenge that would please many, simply because of a few people. Rome 2024 is a great opportunity for Italy. It’s not by accident that we are in pole position. Either the money for the Games comes to Rome or it goes to Paris.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced last year that it will contribute (USD) $1.7 billion to the winning city to help organize the Games. Along with Paris, Budapest and Los Angeles are also competing to host.
To make the situation bleaker for Rome, a city that faces an unprecedented second consecutive bid cancellation (the city dropped out of the 2020 race when the Prime Minister Mario Monti backed away from his needed approval), Italian news agency ANSA has reported that a city hall source says Raggi’s decision is already made and that at a press conference next week she’ll announce that the Eternal City will no longer be bidding for the 2024 Games.
Meanwhile the Rome 2024 bid committee continues to push forward, last week announcing that a September 27 press conference would highlight the release of the “first census of sports facilities ever carried out in Rome,” a project considered to be a valuable legacy for the bid and a tool to organize future Games. During the 2024 Rio Olympics the Rome bid committee passed on a valuable opportunity to hold a press conference at the main media centre for the Games at Barra Olympic Park.
If Rome drops out, it will join Hamburg after the German city was forced to withdraw when its bid was narrowly defeated in a general referendum late last year. That followed the exodus of four European cities that were vying to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games bid but bailed out for various economic and political reasons.
The four bid cities must submit documents underlining the second part of their candidacy by October 7 and the host city will be elected by the IOC in September 2017 during an all-members session in Lima, Peru.