Italian Olympic Committee President Laments Rome 2024 As Lost Opportunity

CONI President Giovanni Malagò (Rome 2024)

CONI President Giovanni Malagò (Rome 2024)

After being snubbed by Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi for a scheduled meeting about Italy’s 2024 Olympic Games bid, Italian Olympic Committee President Giovanni Malago and Italian Paralympic Committee President Luca Pancalli held an impromptu press conference Wednesday afternoon to respond to the Mayor’s actions and her denial of support for Rome’s campaign.

He described Rome’s “missed opportunity” and described how the Olympics have changed and how hosting would be different under the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Agenda 2020 that supports sensible, sustainable and legacy friendly bids.

“Roma 2024 was the chance to change a lot of things.  Without the Games this won’t be possible”

“The City Council will be responsible for what they have announced today, we are going on until the formal decision”

Raggi blamed her opposition on the history of gross cost overruns that Olympic host cities have experienced over the past several Games.  She brought a visual chart to the press conference to hammer home her point.

Via @Roma2024 Twitter

Via @Roma2024 Twitter

The three were set to meet to discuss the year-old Rome 2024 Olympic bid campaign ahead of any decision the Mayor had promised to deliver later in the afternoon.  Instead, after waiting for 35 minutes without Raggi attending, Malago and Pancalli left City Hall.  Later, the Mayor showed up 30 minutes late for the press conference where she described the bid as irresponsible, effectively ending Rome’s bid and Italy’s chances of hosting the Games.

Raggi later said her absence from the meeting was “a setback.”

It was clear there was much animosity among the leaders.

She said “I was a few minutes late, as I entered (CONI) President Malagò preferred to go away, and there was time, we were not 40 minutes late.”

Malagò responded “we’re leaving because 35 minutes of waiting is too much.”

“We changed our schedules to be on time” for this last-minute meeting with the Mayor.

The Rome 2024 Twitter account summed up the committee’s disappointment dramatically, describing “an incredible opportunity lost for Rome and for Italy,” and showing a series of memes for the former bid with the hashtag #ROMASENZAFUTURO, “Rome without a future” in an ominous smokey typeface.

The Tweets also focused on lost opportunities for job creation, transportation improvements, venue upgrades and the lost investment of (USD) $1.7 billion that the IOC would have contributed to the project.

“Saying no to #Rome2024 means saying no to the 177,000 jobs created thanks to the #Games,” one Tweet said.

Once the decision is made official through further debate over the new motion by the Mayor at City Hall, Rome’s bid will be withdrawn from the race joining Hamburg after the German city lost a referendum over its bid a year ago.

Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris remain in the race to host the Games.  The IOC will elect a host September 13, 2013 in Lima, Peru.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil