Rome’s Leading Mayoral Candidate Says City Unable To Host Olympics

Rome's leading Mayorial Candidate Virginia Raggi (Twitter Photo)
Rome’s leading Mayoral Candidate Virginia Raggi (Twitter Photo)

Virginia Raggi, mayoral candidate for Italy’s populist Five Star Movement, said Tuesday that Rome is far from being able to host the 2024 Olympics.

Raggi, one of the front-runners to be Rome’s next mayor, said Rome’s chronic financial and infrastructure problems meant it would be better to bid at a later date.

Rome bid for the 2020 Olympic Games four years ago but was forced to withdraw after the Prime Minister refused to underwrite the plans based on the weak economic climate.  If an elected Mayor doesn’t support the 2024 campaign – it will be damaging and perhaps fatal to Italy’s Olympic plans.

Recent polls show that Raggi leads the Rome Mayoral race with 27.4 per cent of the popular vote – almost 3 per cent ahead of the second place candidate according to an Index Research poll.  The election is set to be held June 5.

AFP reports Raggi said, “Rome today is a city on its knees, where fixing the potholes in the road has become a government project”.

She referred to many cities around the world that had second thoughts about planned bids for winter and summer Olympics because of the financial implications, mentioning Krakow, Davos, Boston and Stockholm.

“The IOC money isn’t enough to cover all the works and raising other funds involves mortgaging the future of residents” said Raggi.

She added that Rome faced huge financial commitments if it was to get its public transport system back on track.  “We have a debt of 13 billion euros ($14.78 billion) and we are thinking of hosting the Olympics?  Perhaps now it is better to think of routine stuff and then, when the city is ready, go for the Olympics.

Rome 2024 Logo Unveiled on December 14, 2015 at Palazzetto dello Sport (CONI Photo)
Rome 2024 Logo Unveiled on December 14, 2015 at Palazzetto dello Sport (CONI Photo)

“Today I would say we are far from that moment.”

Rome is considered an outsider against bids from Los Angeles and Rome but Olympic bid races are unpredictable and every candidate city has a legitimate chance of winning the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vote in September 2017.  Budapest is also in the running.

During the months long campaign a city’s mayor typically takes a lead role in various meetings and presentations to IOC officials and would be prominent at the final presentation to be held in Lima, Peru.  Support from that mayor is crucial.

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