On Wednesday Rome’s Mayor Virginia Raggi is expected to decide whether her city will continue to pursue the bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games, or cancel the project. Raggi, who was elected on an anti-corruption and austerity platform, has been an opponent of the bid but has since put off any final decision.
According to AP, Raggi has scheduled a news conference at 3:30 pm local time to end any further speculation on the bid at City Hall on ancient Capitoline Hill. Raggi is expected to meet with Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) president Giovanni Malago and Italian Paralympic Committee President Luca Pancalli just prior to the expected announcement at 2:30 pm for a technical discussion.
If the capital’s bid is cancelled, it will be the second consecutive time that Rome has filed an application to host the Games only to have critical support withheld forcing the bid to withdraw. In 2012 amid an economic crisis Italy’s prime minister refused to give critical financial approval for the 2020 Games bid on the eve that the document was due into the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
This year it is Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who is the strong backer of the bid – but while Italy is still suffering economic woes, Raggi of the anti-corruption Five Star Movement has said that she will focus funds on the city’s necessary infrastructure and services, and not on preparing for an Olympic Games. The Mayor has until October 7, the IOC deadline for the submission of key financial documents to support the bid, but she has said that she would announce her decision after Sunday’s conclusion of the Paralympic Games.
Rome’s budget for the bid phase is (USD) $27.5 million, a fraction of what the other cities plan to spend according to bid books filed earlier this year. Forty-six per cent of venues for a Rome Games are ready to go without any additional permanent work, 19 per cent exist but will need permanent additions and five per cent will be built but have already been planned. There would be seven temporary venues.
If the bid is dropped Rome will be the second of five candidate cities to bow out of the race early after Hamburg’s bid was felled by a referendum late last year. It will also be a blow to the IOC that has seen interest in hosting the Games decline in recent years as reported costs for the project have skyrocketed.
For the 2022 Olympic Winter Games four European cities of a total of six original applicants pulled out of the race for various political and economic reasons leaving only the Asian cities Almaty and Beijing to contest the election. The latter won a narrow victory.
Last year Los Angeles was chosen to replace the original 2024 U.S. candidate Boston after the Massachusetts city was overwhelmed with public opposition forcing the mayor to back away.
The IOC’s Agenda 2020 has helped implement changes to the Olympic bid process that are designed not only to keep the costs of bidding lower, but to allow cities to propose plans that are more cost efficient and sustainable. While the 2024 cities are embracing this concept many factors, including major funding issues that surfaced during the planning and execution of the Rio Games, have raised significant doubts among stakeholders of potential bid cities.
The IOC will elect its host for the 2024 Games on September 13, 2017 at an all-members session in Lima, Peru. Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris are also in the running.
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