Italy’s Olympic medalists have written Rome’s Mayor Virginia Raggi trying to stir up support for the city’s struggling 2024 Olympic Games bid, reports AP.
“Those of us who had the opportunity to experience the Rio Games and to win a medal, putting Italy’s name on the podium, are convinced that bringing the games back to our country and our capital would give future generations the necessary optimism to believe in a better future,” a letter signed by 68 athletes said.
“You can give a decisive push to our dreams and a reason for enthusiasm for all Italian sport.”
Raggi, who was elected on an anti-Olympic bid platform, must endorse documents of support for Rome’s bid before the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) October 7th deadline or the bid will have to drop out of the race for the second straight time. A 2020 Olympic bid from Rome was derailed at the same stage when then Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti denied his required support amid a national economic crisis.
For 2024 Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is a strong advocate for the bid but Raggi says its more important for her city to focus funds instead on more fundamental infrastructure projects. She was reportedly set to pull the plug on the bid at a Paralympic Games sendoff ceremony for Italian athletes last week but instead delayed any decision until she speaks with Italian Olympic Committee President Giovanni Malagò. The meeting is expected to occur after the conclusion of the Rio Paralympics set to close at Maracanã Stadium September 18.
“We ask you not to leave out your support for Rome’s bid,” the letter with signatories including three-times Olympic champion Niccolo Campriani, three-times silver medalist Giovanni Pellielo and members of Italy’s volleyball and water polo teams.
“We ask you with the passion we have shown recently in our competitions and which allowed us to excel. We appeal to your sensitivity as a mayor and your love as a mother.”
“If we play together no match can ever be lost. United we can win. You showed that by becoming mayor. We showed that by winning in Rio. We are certain you share our sentiments. Don’t close the door on a unique opportunity.”
The 38-year-old mother of one was elected in June as the first female mayor of Rome. She replaced former Mayor Ignazio Marino, a strong support of the bid who helped push through the application last September in an effort to win Italy its first Summer Games since 1960.
Raggi’s first three months in office hasn’t progressed easily and she is now under fire for appointing a minister who is under criminal investigation, though she vowed to clean up corruption in municipal government. This will make it a lot less likely that she will change her mind about committing funds to organize and Olympic Games.
Should the Mayor end the bid, the Prime Minister has vowed to try again for the 2028 Games with another Italian city.
Rome is bidding among Paris, Los Angeles, and Budapest to host the 2024 Games. A decision by the IOC on the winning city will be made in September 2017.