POSTED: August 29th 2016

Mayor Raggi on Rome 2024: Olympians are not born, they must be developed

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi personally gives send off for the Rio 2016 Paralympics © ANSA
Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi personally gives send off for the Rio 2016 Paralympics © ANSA

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi today welcomed the Paralympic athletes to the municipal city offices to recognize the Italian team and give them a proper send off for the Rio 2016 Paralympics. Raggi did not meet with the Italian Olympic team as they left for Rio 2016 and nor did she or any of her staff from the city attend the Rio Games as observers. 

Of course the question of the Rome 2024 bid is high on everyone's minds as the new Mayor has not yet declared her support behind the Eternal City bid and since her election in June her list of priorities has mainly been about improving city services for the Roman population.

Today she replied to reporters when asked about her meeting with Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) President Giovanni Malago as noted on ANSA's website, "We will get together in September, after the summer; we are only at August 29th; I would say that it is still summer.

"We will discuss [the bid] with President Malago.

"The Romans and Rome can overcome all the obstacles that this city presents right now. We have already been working on all the points that the Romans have indicated are priorities: transport, garbage collection and curbing excessive spending. The Olympics are a great occasion for sport, but Olympians are not just born, they must be developed. Therefore, we must evaluate all the city's sports infrastructures, they are numerous and unfortunately have been left in a state of abandon.

"We must begin again to reconstruct sport starting from those infrastructures," she noted.

The fall equinox starts on September 22nd, so there may be time to wait for this meeting.

In an effort to keep the Olympic Dream alive should the mayor axe Rome's chances, Lombardy Governor Roberto Maroni said that he would be happy to take up the challenge if Rome's bid is scratched and he launched a popularity poll to gauge reaction from the people.

However not all in Milan agree with this idea, Mayor Giuseppe Sala says that Milan can't take the place of Rome due to IOC rules for bidding cities. Though he is in favor of the benefits that hosting large sports events can attract, Milan might be more interested in a bid if a non-European city won 2024, they might consider 2028 or 2032.

Sala too is following the thought process of Virginia Raggi and said, "Given today's urgencies, I don't think this is the right time to talk about it. Let's take the topic off the table and address the issues that are more important for the Milanese and the Italians."

Rome is bidding against Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris and all of the other cities have significant backing from their local governments.

The IOC is set to vote on their final host city in September 2017 in Lima, Peru.

**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 · Virginia Raggi · Rome 2024

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