Rome’s mayor has begun formal steps to withdraw her city’s candidacy to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.
Virginia Raggi, who became mayor in June, has made no secret of her opposition to staging the event saying the debt-ladened capital cannot afford the investment needed.
Most former host cities have spent well over their initial cost projections and spent several years paying off the bill.
Rome will not be adding its name to that list.
After her election in June, Raggi told Euronews: ‘‘It’s more than an Olympics of sports, it appears to be an Olympics of ‘bricks’, as it has always been for all these great sporting occasions around the world, not only in Italy.
“The economic and historical data suggests that all the host cities from the past have amassed huge debt. The Montreal Games for example overran their initial cost estimation and budget by a staggering 796 percent. These are the costs, this is the data.
“I would say that Rome, with a current debt of 13 billion euros, today can’t afford to add to that debt, to build ‘cathedrals in the desert’ (a waste of money).
“If you want to speak about sport then that is not a problem at all, but let’s begin talking about the sports venues that already exist in the city. Rome has more than 160 venues which are falling apart and no one has ever bothered to renovate or just refresh them. If we speak about sport, let’s do it every day.’‘
Then there were three
Rome joins Boston and Hamburg in withdrawing its bid to host the 2024 Games.
Unlike the case in Rome, though, it was Hamburg’s citizens and not the city’s authorities who pulled the plug.
In November 2015 a clear majority of the city’s residents voted to pull out of the race just a year after they were celebrating Hamburg’s victory over Berlin to be Germany’s candidate.
With Boston, Hamburg and now Rome out of the running – Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest are the remaining contenders.
LA has twice before hosted the Games in 1932 and 1984 and has been tagged as the favourite out of the three candidates to win it for 2024.
Paris is second favourite and only this week city officials announced they are prepared to spend big to ensure it wins the hosting rights.
Reports say Paris will have an overall budget of three billion euros, but as history has shown many times before that sum is likely to be dwarfed by the final outlay.
Budapest is the outsider, but recent polls suggest support by its citizens is high .
Hungary’s capital city has bid for the Games six previous times, the last time in 1960, but has yet to host the planet’s biggest multi-sport event.
The International Olympic Committee will elect a winner in September 2017.