Renzi confident time is right for Rome to host Olympics
Jan. 21, 2016
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Italian Premier Matteo Renzi believes Rome's time has finally come to host the Olympics again.
Renzi met with IOC President Thomas Bach in Lausanne on Thursday and backed Rome's bid for the 2024 Games.
Rome, which last held the Olympics in 1960, lost out to Athens in the final round of voting for the 2004 Games. It was forced to withdraw its bid for the 2020 Olympics after the government of then Premier Mario Monti declined to provide financial backing.
"It's the right moment for Rome," Renzi said. "It's coming from a heavy defeat in 2004 and then the 'no' from Monti's government. But now the government is here. We will give our all, nose to the ground and pedal right until 2017. Rome is a very strong candidacy. We respect everyone but don't fear anyone."
The IOC will select the host city in 2017. Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest, Hungary, are the other bid cities.
"Everyone turned up their nose at the beginning but then they understood that an event like the Olympics is a great occasion," Renzi said. "The plans are already ready. The government is working with CONI because sport is a piece of Italian culture and an investment in the future.
"I don't know if Rome is in front but it is definitely an extraordinary candidacy. If we win, it will be an extraordinary ride because Rome knows how to unite tradition and innovation."
Also present at the meeting in Lausanne were Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago and bid chief Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, who once again underlined the fact that "70 percent of the venues already exist and are ready."
Both sides said Rome's bid fits in with the IOC's "Olympic Agenda 2020" program, which pushes for flexibility and lower costs in bidding for and hosting the games.
"It was an excellent meeting in an atmosphere of great enthusiasm," Malago said. "The work that's been done and the great professionalism was appreciated. We are in harmony with the Agenda 2020 and ours is a low cost bid. Today was a fundamental step and on Feb. 17 we will present the definitive dossier."
Bach said the Italian bid "brings together Rome's great history and its great Olympic history while addressing the Olympic Agenda 2020 principles of sustainability and legacy."
Montezemolo has announced a bid budget of 24.9 million euros ($27 million) — more than double the previous estimate of 10 million euros (nearly $11 million) but significantly less than the budgets of main rivals Paris and Los Angeles.
The small, left-wing movement Radicali Italiani called for a public referendum on Rome's bid at the beginning of the month, citing spiraling costs of recent Olympics.
Montezemolo said last week that he didn't see the "necessity" for a referendum since the city council voted overwhelmingly in favor — 38-6 — of the bid last year.
An IPSOS poll found that three out of four Italians are in favor of Rome's bid, out of 2,200 people surveyed.
On a national scale, 77 percent support the bid, while that goes down to 66 percent of the 800 of those surveyed who live in Rome. The figure rises back up to 76 percent if the 400 who live in the provinces are included.
Renzi is the third head of state or government to visit the IOC for talks on the 2024 bidding, following Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and French President Francois Hollande.