Rome 2024 Targets Paris; Los Angeles 2024 Addresses Security

Rome 2024 Olympic Bid Logo

Rome 2024 Olympic Bid Logo

On Tuesday, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi said he was counting on a victory for Rome’s 2024 Olympic Games bid.

“We will win the Olympics, I say we can do it,” he said at an awards ceremony.

“We know the rival is Paris, but I believe in us.  I think all the conditions are in place to do it”.

“We haven’t won anything yet but some of our rivals have already pulled out.  Last year the problem was Boston and now it’s not there anymore”.

Boston withdrew from the race in July after facing significant opposition to the bid.  The United States Olympic (USOC) has since nominated Los Angeles as a replacement where 81 percent support the campaign.  LA 2024 CEO Gene Sykes said Tuesday that 90 percent across the USA now support the bid.

Hamburg dropped its bid last month when it was defeated in a referendum where 51.7 percent voted against the plans.

Rome withdrew its own bid for the 2020 Olympics four years ago after the government of then Premier Mario Monti declined to provide financial backing just hours before the deadline.

On Monday bid rivals Budapest and the Hungarian Olympic Committee hosted International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach at their 120th anniversary celebration.  Bach said Budapest will be a “strong contender” yet on the same day critics in the capital were approved to petition for a possible referendum in the spring.

Paris 2024 Olympic Bid Committee at announcement of proposed Olympic Village in Seine-Saint Denis area (Paris 2024 Photo)

Paris 2024 Olympic Bid Committee at announcement of proposed Olympic Village in Seine-Saint Denis area (Paris 2024 Photo)

Renzi said that sport should serve as a vehicle against the fear of terrorism following the recent attacks in Paris.

He said “Italy does not want to resign itself to be shut up at home due to fear.  It wants to live with joy and sport is a way to say no to fear”.

During a USOC press conference following a board meeting in New York, LA 2024 representatives were peppered with security questions in wake of the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, and on news of controversial city-wide school closings Tuesday for an undisclosed threat.

“We’ve actually worked closely to get help from city and state and county officials who deal with security and we actually will take some steps that we’ll be ready to announce in the next several weeks that will reflect the kinds of things that we expect to do,” Sykes said

But bid Chairman Casey Wasserman doesn’t believe that the close-to-home threats will be an issue with the IOC since the security threat “is a concern for everyone in all markets.”

He said “it hasn’t been a specific concern that any members have raised to me about Los Angeles.”

Sykes added “You cannot skimp on security.”

While 85 percent of the proposed venues in Los Angeles are already built, the bid has struggled early with the location of one of the costliest – the athletes’ village.  The originally proposed location on the Los Angeles River is no longer available but bid leaders say they have narrowed possible backup locations to “less than a handful” and will make a decision in “a short period of time.”

“A lot can happen in 22 months, and as a bid we have a lot of hard work to do,” Sykes said.

“We’re under no illusion that winning the 2024 Olympic Games will be an easy task.”

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said, “selecting Budapest would not only be a new city and country for the Olympic Games, but put the region on the map.  We want to organize the first Central Eastern Europe Olympics”.

“Hosting the Olympics Games is no longer the privilege of the world’s 20 biggest cities — we are ready to seize the opportunity.  The Olympics is a passion for Hungarians”.

“We have a natural network of the Central European Olympic committees.  We really believe that it is simple geography that if we have the Games in Budapest that obviously a great number of Central European spectators could participate”.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti addresses the audience at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica, California, on September 1, 2015.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti addresses the audience at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica, California, on September 1, 2015.

LA 2024’s Sykes said at the afternoon press conference “we’re not changing the face of our city to fit the Olympic Games.”

“The Games must serve our city for generations to come, not just for 17 days in 2024.”

“That is Olympic legacy in action, not theory.”

The four bids face a February 17 deadline to submit phase one of their bid books along with required guarantees.  The IOC will elect the winner September 2017 in Lima, Peru.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-nominated 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

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