Rome 2024 Olympic bid Chief Luca di Montezemolo is holding on to a last thread of hope after Rome’s Mayor Virginia Raggi pulled her support from his bid Wednesday, putting it into peril.
“I still hope Rome will win this great challenge. There’s always hope,” Montezemolo told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera Friday.
But once the Mayor’s motion to end the bid is approved by the city council, likely next week, the Olympic bid will be forced to withdraw its application ending the high-level campaign just as it was also forced to do four years ago when the Prime Minister denied federal government support for a 2020 bid.
However if city council decides to challenge Raggi, who in her third month as Mayor has seen her support drop and members of her cabinet resign, the story could change. But that seems like a long shot.
Rome 2024 has vowed to continue to move forward until city hall officially renders its decision, though Montezemolo recognizes the near-futility of his campaigning.
“I doubt the decision can be changed once it has been made,” he said.
“Prime Minister [Matteo] Renzi was clear on that as well. But I still hope that the desire to make the most of the opportunity will triumph over party politics. For Rome. For all of Italy.
Montezemolo reportedly met with the Prime Minister Thursday to discuss the situation.
Do we really think that Rome will still be in a state of emergency 8 years from now? – Montezemolo
“I have the utmost respect for the institution, and the decision must be made by the winner of the elections. But I am unable to accept the attitude and the substance of this decision. I believe they are giving up on the future, on our young people, on nearly 200,000 jobs, on a sustainable city with less barriers for the elderly, the disabled and families.
“I understand being concerned about the citizens’ priorities, but do we really think that Rome will still be in a state of emergency 8 years from now?”
Montezemolo laments the lost opportunity to get a (USD) $1.7 billion grant from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), if Rome had won the bid, that would help improve sports facilities – but instead will now go to “another city.”
He also discounted any potential referendum, saying that holding a vote now would be too late.
“The city council is turning down an extraordinary opportunity to prove that they can host an event that is completely transparent and complies with all laws. They would have had complete control of the situation. They would have set up the Organising Committee and inspected the tenders and the construction work with all the instruments at their disposal including the Anti-corruption Authority under Cantone. Saying no just to avoid responsibility is unacceptable.”
If Rome exits the 2024 race, the IOC will need to choose from among Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris in an election to be held next September in Lima, Peru.
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.