POSTED: January 6th 2016

Olympics: Left wing Italian Radical Party calls for Rome referendum on the 2024 Games bid

The home page of the Referendum Roma 2024 website
The home page of the Referendum Roma 2024 website

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) After Hamburg lost its 2024 Olympic bid dream to a failed referendum now the Eternal City is getting pressure from a minority left wing radical party calling for a vote from the people.

The "Referendum Roma 2024" group launched a website and social media channels on Facebook and Twitter to support their cause. They have put together a 28 page dossier investigating the economic effects of past Games and how costs and budgets have ballooned raising the question if hosting the Olympics is "worth the trouble"?

The IOC doesn't require that the cities have referendums but they do want to see strong public support numbers for the candidates. Last year the IOC also made some important changes to the bidding cycle with Agenda 2020 to open opportunities for cities interested to host the Games.   

So far the petition only has 455 signatures but it has only been public for a few days. It also lists the cities that have held referendums Davos, Krakow, Oslo and Hamburg that have not won the public's support killing their own Olympic bids.  

The group, led by Radical Party Secretary Riccardo Magi, explained their mission in a statement, "We believe that such an important decision for the future of the capital must be made by the citizens, and that's why we're asking Premier (Matteo) Renzi and (Rome's extraordinary commissioner Francesco Paolo) Tronca to hold a referendum."

The plea for the referendum cites instances when high costs to stage the Games have caused tax burdens on local citizens and they emphasized past hosts Quebec, Canada [Montreal 1976], Genoble, France and Barcelona, Spain. However all three nations have recently bid again in Olympic races to host the Games. Currently Paris is in the running in the 2024 bid campaign.

Aside from Paris, Rome is competing against two other high profile cities Budapest and Los Angeles with Hamburg and Boston bowing out of this race after losing to a referendum and low public support.

Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) President Giovanni Malago has driven home the point that there is no plan for a referendum but that they would be doing their own polling to test public support. After Rome's failed 2020 bid when Premier Mario Monti declined the government's backing, this time the bid has the government on its side with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi strongly supporting the bid from the beginning.

Renzi expressed his believe in the bid to the Financial Times well over a year ago, "Too often our country seems resigned . . . You can lose but it's unacceptable to refuse to play the game. We have all we need to shoot for the gold.

"Sport in Italy is a way of life and a way of looking at the future. I don't know if we'll make it, but the Olympic candidacy is one of the most beautiful things we can do for our kids, for us, for Italy."

The Radical Party is not one of the mainline Italian political parties and only gained .2% of the vote in the last Italian general election winning no seats in the Chamber of Deputies or the Senate of the Republic.

Budapest is also facing pressure locally to do a referendum and the decision has now gone to the Hungarian courts to see if they will grant permission for a petition request. They will need 140,000 signatures to be able to push through the referendum. If they are successful it could happen in the next few months.

Los Angeles and Paris have both announced that they do not plan to run referendums on local support for their bid cities. 

The IOC is due to vote on the final host city for the 2024 summer Games next year in Lima, Peru at the session.  

**LAURA WALDEN has over twenty-five years of experience in the Olympic Movement, formerly at the European Olympic Committees with SportEurope under former IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge and IOC Member Mario Pescante. She worked with the Rome 2004 and Turin 2006 Olympic bids and also managed PR & media for Dr. Jacques Rogge during his campaign for the presidency.

Keywords · Olympics · Rome 2024

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