POSTED: September 21st 2016
NewsUpdate

Chaos in Rome as Mayor Virginia Raggi pulls the plug on the 2024 Olympic bid

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi called a press conference to publicly nix the Olympic bid and even streamed it on her Facebook page but didn't meet with bid officials © Getty Images
Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi called a press conference to publicly nix the Olympic bid and even streamed it on her Facebook page but didn't meet with bid officials © Getty Images

CONI President Giovanni Malago and the team fight their way through the media to leave © Getty Images
CONI President Giovanni Malago and the team fight their way through the media to leave © Getty Images

Next week the Rome city council will discuss the formal act against the bid. Malago threatens filing a lawsuit © Getty Images
Next week the Rome city council will discuss the formal act against the bid. Malago threatens filing a lawsuit © Getty Images

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Today was the day for Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi to meet with the Italian Olympic committee (CONI) team to discuss the bid but the mayor pulled a no show. The CONI team, led by President Giovanni Malago, included Luca Pancalli and General Manager Diana Bianchedi left after waiting 35 minutes and the mayor never arrived to receive them.

"We left after 35 minutes because this is too long to wait," said Malago as he fought his way through a large media scrum outside the Rome municipal building.

"We rearranged our schedule to be on time and we are here waiting for over a half an hour...this is too much," he said as he made his way to his car.

Bianchedi explained, "We waited for 35 minutes in the Mayor's waiting room, and she didn't appear. Respect for the institutional role deserved a different behavior. If it wasn't possible to speak with us all she had to do was tell us."

"Are we bitter? Enough. We even called to see where she was, but she didn't show up. This does not preclude our desire to make another meeting. We know their schedule is complex but it would have been better to postpone the meeting," added the champion Olympic fencer.

To the surprise of the Rome 2024 team, shortly after the incident Mayor Raggi met the media in a public streamed press conference leaving no doubt she would not back the Olympic bid.

"It would be 'irresponsible to say yes to this campaign," said Raggi.

"We never changed our mind, we won't speculate on the future of Rome. With these Olympics they ask us to create more debt for the Romans: we do not feel like doing this. The money that you spend, is from the Romans, we must not forget.

 "For this we say no to the Olympics 'al mattone', redundant infrastructures. We don't want that."

"We are still paying the debts of the 1960 Olympics. We are still paying for the '90 World Cup. We finished paying the mortgage in 2015," she added.

"The Olympics are a blank check signed by the host cities: the University of Oxford explained this in a study. The Olympics are a dream that becomes a nightmare. We don't have the data from Rio, but we have seen the images of the people of Rio.

"The Olympics serve business corporations not the people, we are for sport but not for these Olympics.

"We are proactive, we have ambitious projects, we want to restore services to the city, 70 percent of the Romans already said no to the Olympics during the second round of local elections.

Raggi clarified the missed appointment with the Rome 2024 team, "I had a setback and I was a few minutes late, as I entered the building president Malagò preferred to leave, there was time (to meet) and I was not 40 minutes late," she explained.

Formal Act

The next step in the bid process is that Mayor Raggi declared that a formal act will be decided next week by the city council and that would mean the end of the bid. CONI awaits this decision.

And Malago said in the Italian press that 'since CONI's bid was publicly funded it would be up to the government, and in particular the economy ministry, to decide whether to proceed'. 

So lawsuits may be filed for sinking the bid and for such a late time to call out on the decision.

This leaves Budapest, Paris and Los Angeles in the race for the 2024 Summer games and the IOC is set to decide in less than a year at the session in Lima, Peru in September 2017.

**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 · Roma 2024


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