Rome’s mayor has announced her opposition to Italy’s bid to host the Olympic Games in 2024, in a move that is likely to mean the end of the capital’s ambitious campaign.
Virginia Raggi was elected in June and has faced a tumultuous start to her tenure.
“We are effectively asking the people of Rome and of Italy to shoulder the debts. We just don’t support it,” Raggi said on Wednesday.
The announcement will add to concerns that the Olympic Games are increasingly being viewed with scepticism by potential host cities who worry about costs, environmental concerns, and the objections of local citizens.
While the Roma 2024 campaign has not formally abandoned its bid, organisers had already suggested that the mayor’s support would be necessary to continue. The move leaves Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest in contention. Boston and Hamburg, two other early potential candidates, have already pulled out.
The decision was not surprising because Raggi had already signalled during her election campaign that she did not support the Olympic bid. Her party, the Five Star Movement, is vehemently opposed to unwieldy infrastructure projects and initiatives that are seen as vanity projects that come at a high cost to taxpayers.
The decision came at a time when Raggi has come under pressure to right the course of her administration following a series of personnel issues, and when Italy’s prime minister Matteo Renzi, who enthusiastically launched the bid in December 2014, is facing a difficult referendum this autumn that could – at least temporarily – end his career in politics.
Renzi had launched the Olympic bid even though Rome at the time found itself at the centre of a series of public corruption scandals that came to be known as Mafia Capitale, raising questions about whether it could pull off a “clean” Olympics.
“We can’t allow our problems to stop us from dreaming,” he said in 2014.
For proponents of the bid, the idea of hosting the Olympic Games, while daunting, was seen as a way for the city to unite around a lofty goal, and a way to give the city the motivation necessary to pull off a huge global event that could return the city to the glory days of La Dolce Vita.
If Renzi’s view was too optimistic, then Raggi’s may have sounded a bit too downtrodden. The 38-year-old lawyer said the city was still paying debts it had accrued for the Games in 1960, and would not stand for more “cathedrals in the desert” – abandoned stadiums – that the city could ill afford.
“The Olympics are a dream that turn into a nightmare. I don’t have all the facts about Rio, but we have the image in our eyes of the citizens of Rio,” she said.
The day included a touch of drama after Italy’s Olympic Committee president, Giovanni Malago, who was supposed to meet with Raggi before the press conference, left city hall in a huff after complaining that he had waited for her for half an hour but that she had not showed up.
yaning from language.chinadaily.com.cn