Detailed plans for Rome's abandoned 2020 Olympic bid illustrate a compelling opportunity lost

Rome had big plans for the 2020 Olympic Games, but the proposal that was tag-lined “a time for history” – is now history.

The details of Rome’s bid have been revealed on the Internet and, according to the document, were to lead to “a new and renewed Rome”.

The entire bid application file -over 160 stunning pages of detailed plans and visuals complete with new branding – had been prepared and readied for delivery to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in hopes that last-ditch efforts to sell the dream to Italy’s Prime Minister would succeed.

It didn’t. Despite suggestions that winning the bid could jump-start the economy, Italy’s financial crisis was deemed to take priority and austerity measures didn’t include an Olympics.

“Strong and committed support for the bid at all [government] levels” is a highlighted promise in the application, and a requirement in order for bids to be accepted. But while Rome enjoyed enthusiastic backing from the Mayor – and support from the region and province – the federal government did not come through and the bid was dropped just hours before the application file deadline.

Italy’s Olympic Committee (CONI) promised that the bid would be a “catalyst for change” for the country – inspiring youth even if the bid was lost.

“We believe in the concept ‘winning through bidding’”, the application explains.

CONI budgeted USD$53 million for the bid campaign scheduled to run until September 2013 and the application reports that 77% of Romans and 74% across Italy were in support of the bid.

The Games would have been scheduled from July 24 to August 9 with five venue clusters including many iconic locations including two that were used in the 1960 Rome Olympics. The main broadcast centre and press centre were planned to be housed in a new venue financed by Italian broadcaster RAI that would become their headquarters post-Games.

The bid was expected to enjoy revenues of USD$2.117 billion dollars.

This application is probably the best-developed Olympic proposal never to have made it into the IOC’s hands. After a comprehensive domestic campaign where Rome defeated Venice to become Italy’s choice for 2020 – Rome was the first city to commit their bid to the IOC and had the most time to prepare among the six international cities that were nominated.

The production quality of the application file is by far the best compared to the city’s former rivals, and the overall plan would have been highly competitive had it been developed throughout the campaign.

The logo, a simple gold-coloured “swirl” representing a modernized depiction of the Roman Colosseum matched nicely with the theme of history and the city’s renewal.

With renowned bid consultant Terence Burns and his firm Helios Partners at the helm who are fresh from a successful engagement that won the Olympic Winter Games for PyeongChang South Korea, Rome had all the pieces required to win the bid.

Well, that’s all the pieces except for one, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti’s signature.

Download and read Rome’s Application by clicking here (40 MB PDF file)