Italy’s Olympic chief insists Rome 2024 Olympic bid will go on…
The Italian Olympic chief has reacted angrily to the refusal of the mayor of Rome to support the city’s bid to host the 2024 Games.
Calling the decision “demagogic and populist”, Giovanni Malago insisted the project was financially viable.
Mayor Virginia Raggi rejected the bid on Wednesday on the grounds that it would be “irresponsible”, and would leave the Italian capital indebted.
Boston and Hamburg have already dropped out of the running for the 2024 Games.
“Hearing ‘no’ hurts,” the head of the Italian Olympic Committee said. “I’m very sorry. It was possible to do this, and do it well. We will continue [with the bid] until I hear a formal no.”
“Is there an alternative project for the city that will create new jobs?” he asked.
“Is there an alternative that will give answers to the young citizens aged 18 to 25? For the first time not even one of the environmental organisations opposed the project. Even the trade unions backed it.”
In ancient times here, Roman emperors offered the thrill of bread and circuses to appease and divert a restless population.
That tactic, it seems, no longer works. These days, Rome is a city which can barely pick up its own rubbish.
Among many Romans, the idea of hosting an Olympic Games hasn’t provoked much enthusiasm. The new mayor knows that. She comes from the populist Five Star Movement, which has strongly opposed a bid for the Games.
Ms Raggi has had a difficult first few weeks in power. Her tenure has been overshadowed by accusations of mismanagement and cover-ups. Rejecting the Olympics may be her way of winning back popularity and asserting her own authority over the city.
Ms Raggi, from the anti-establishment Five Star movement, suggested that Rome would have been left with redundant sports facilities.
“No to cathedrals in the desert,” she said, adding that Rome was still paying out for the Games it hosted in 1960.
Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest are still vying to host the Games.
The International Olympic Committee will elect the host at a vote in Lima, Peru, in September 2017, with Paris considered the favourite.