Rome mayor vetoes Olympic bid

Rome mayor vetoes Olympic bid

Virginia Raggi. Source: Wikipedia

Rome’s new mayor has moved to block the city’s attempts to win the 2024 Olympics, saying that previous host cities had been left with massive financial overruns and vast debts.

Hosting the games could quickly turn from a “dream” into a “nightmare”, Virginia Raggi said, describing the London, Sydney and Athens games as “a global flop” because of their costs.

The 38-year-old lawyer from the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement said Italy was still paying off debts from the 1960 Olympics and football’s 1990 World Cup.

She said the events would benefit business interests and construction firms but not citizens. Speaking in Rome’s Renaissance-era town hall she said Olympic venues often became “empty skeletons”, abandoned and forgotten.

She said an Oxford University study proved that budgetary forecasts were usually inadequate. The July report said “for a city and nation to decide to stage the Olympic Games is to take on one of the most costly and financially most risky types of mega-project that exists, something that many cities and nations have learned to their peril”.

Raggi’s press conference reversed the policy of her predecessor Ignazio Marino, explaining that Rome had too many other problems to address.

He envisaged beach volleyball in the Circus Maximus chariot-racing arena and the marathon around monuments like the Colosseum. But the municipal government struggles to collect rubbish, mend roads and maintain public transport.

Raggi said almost 70 per cent of Romans were against the bid.

Only Budapest, Paris and Los Angeles are still in the running for the 2024 Games with the winner to be announced by the International Olympic Committee next September.

The IOC is struggling to convince cities of the economic benefits of hosting the Olympics after Boston dropped out last year and voters in Hamburg rejected its bid in a referendum.

Raggi has had a troubled three months in office since being elected in June. She has endured several resignations and some colleagues are being investigated for alleged abuse of office.

“After the disasters in Rome, the Five Star Movement is now inflicting enormous harm on the whole country,” said Senator Salvatore Margiotta from the Democratic Party of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

The bid was backed by Renzi who had hoped Raggi could be persuaded to change her mind.

Giovanni Malago, the president of the Italian Olympic Committee, said: “Don’t talk about things you know nothing about.”

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