Though several reports Sunday suggested the Mayor was set to pull the plug on Rome’s 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid, Virginia Raggi instead enthusiastically wished Italy’s Paralympians well during an official city hall send off to the Rio Games deferring any decision on the bid to a later day.
According to Italy’s daily La Repubblica, Raggi will make plans to discuss the bid with Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) President Giovanni Malagò before the end of next week, or after the Paralympic Games that are set to end September 18.
Raggi must form a decision by October 7, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) deadline for the phase 2 submission of bid documents that are to include guarantee letters from government officials.
Raggi told reporters “the Romans dream of the Olympics of 2024? Dreams are important. Let us remember in particular that the Olympics are an important opportunity for Olympic sports but we do not become, we grow. We must absolutely value the municipal sports facilities, which are often and unfortunately today left a bit in a state of neglect. In September we will discuss with [CONI] President Malagò”
“We have to start rebuilding the sport facilities to allow all the Romans, even children, to be able to practice from their early years.”
The Five Star Movement Mayor who has campaigned opposed to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid that he supports held off cancelling bid plans Monday, an announcement that may have been deemed inappropriate during a time that the focus should be on the athletes and their potential success. However, it is not thought that her goal to eventually withdraw the city’s candidature has changed.
The city bowed out of the 2020 race after then federal government backing was denied.
Amid economic woes and high unemployment Raggi has pointed to the need for focusing funds on critical city infrastructure and services instead of diverting them to the preparations for an Olympic Games. Recent struggles for Brazil in that nation’s attempt to fund the Olympic Games in Rio after construction delays and cost over runs amid a major economic recession has provided a convenient back story that could influence Raggi’s decision.
Lack of funds in Rio have caused the axing of a complete cluster of venues that were being prepared for the upcoming Paralympic Games.
Italy ranked ninth among nations at the Rio Games with 28 total medals.
The IOC will elect the host city for the 2024 Games on September 13, 2017 in Lima, Peru.
More to come.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.