Reports out of Italy are suggesting that Rome’s 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games may be officially dropped as early as noon local time Monday in Rome.
Italy’s La Repubblica has reported that Rome’s newly elected mayor, Virginia Raggi, who has aggressively campaigned against hosting the Olympic Games is ready to pull the plug on Italy’s bid in the next week or two – and perhaps as early as Monday at city hall when the nation’s Paralympic athletes will be attending a send-off ceremony to the Games in Rio de Janeiro.
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, to make her decision but it now seems likely she has already made up her mind.
The cancellation of the bid would be consistent with Rome’s low-key bid presence in Rio during the Games. While rivals Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris made the most of their limited 30-minute press conference allocation, Rome first deferred the option until later in the Games and then failed to schedule it altogether. Raggi did not travel to Rio although both L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo had extended stays in Brazil.
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.