Rome Candidate to host the 2024 Olympic Games

2024 Olympic Games 2024 Olympic Games

Premier Matteo Renzi stated at the headquarters of the Italian National Olympic Committee, during the traditional ceremony of Golden Collars that CONI organizes every year to reward the best Italian athletes, "I announce that Italy is applying to host the 2024 Olympic Games, with Rome as the center of the project. Around our capital city, all cities like Florence, Naples and Sardinia." The premier's "cost-conscious" proposal to stage events in multiple Italian cities would be possible in light of recent changes implemented by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allowing Olympic host countries to hold events in several places, rather than in just one city to shoulder costs.

Matteo Renzi said he hoped the bid would help kick-start investments and cheer up the mood in a country struggling with a high rate of unemployment, a slow economic recovery and a recent corruption scandal in the capital. "Too often Italy seems resigned, to have lowered its ambitions," said the 39-year-old PM, who has embarked on a massive program of reform to haul Italy out of its political and economic troubles. "Our problems shouldn't stop us from dreaming. If we waited for things to be easy, we'd never try for anything."

Renzi's support for an Italian venue has been welcomed by both CONI and the IOC. "We will start on a very different bases than in the past," explained CONI President Giovanni Malagò, who will be at the head of the promoter's bid committee. "There will be absolute transparency. The bid is starting from Rome, but we will involve the whole country." Moreover, the IOC's president, Thomas Bach, also confirmed that "Rome is a very strong and appreciated candidate for the 2024 Olympic Games." However, serious concerns over the costs associated with hosting the Olympics (London, the last host city, spent $14 billion), caused the announcement to be met with strong opposition and concerns. The prospect of corruption has also been raised, following scandals at the Milan Expo 2015 and the recent Mafia infiltration of Rome.

In bidding for 2024, Renzi went against the "painful" decision made by two of his predecessors. A previous bid for Rome to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games was rejected in February 2012 by then-premier Mario Monti, who claimed that Italy could not afford to host the games due to its economic situation. The proposal to bid for the 2024 games was first mooted by Monti's successor, Enrico Letta, in 2013. Despite Renzi's ambitions, many question whether the country's economic situation has changed much since Monti's decision to drop the 2020 bid.

The city of Rome is not new to hosting major international sport events. The Eternal City staged the 1960 Olympics, then the Soccer World Cup Italia '90, and in more recent times the World Swimming Championships in 2009. While the Italian capital already has some of the necessary sporting infrastructure, such as the Stadio Olimpico and Olympic swimming pool, some commentators point out that its public transportation system is still inadequate for a city dreaming of hosting the Olympic games.

It has also been reported that the Vatican could host competitions such as archery and football as part of Italy's Olympic bid. Sources close to Pope Francis disclose that the Pontiff, an avid soccer fan, is enthusiastic about the idea, and that a meeting with the head of Italy's National Olympic Committee, Malagò, took place on December 19 to discuss areas for collaboration. "The church has always defended sport because its values are not only Christian but universal. It teaches you how to put human values such as compromise and collaboration in practice overcoming division," stated Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, former head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Speculations are rising that events would be staged in the Vatican gardens, St. Peter's Square, as well as at the Pope's summer residence palace at Castel Gandolfo, outside Rome. Pope Francis blessed Rome's bid with a "Best wishes for Rome's bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games," during a Mass marking the 100th anniversary of the Italian Olympic Committee. The Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council of Culture said that the Vatican's sports and culture officials had enthusiastic discussions about the Olympic bid with members of the Italian Olympic Committee, but that no decisions have been reached so far. Vatican officials also pointed out that it would be difficult to plan many events inside the Vatican, given that the city state spans only 110 acres and space is very limited.

Italy was the first country to announce, officially, that it is running for the 2024 games. Germany has declared its intention to submit a bid for either Berlin or Hamburg, and will announce its decision by March. France is expected to declare Paris next year. The United States Olympic Committee has also thrown a hat in the ring for the 2024 Summer Olympics by selecting the city of Boston. The official announcement was released in early January.

Bidding for the host city will begin in 2015, with the winning bid to be announced in Lima, Peru, on September 15, 2017, at the 130th IOC Session. Best wishes to Rome! In bocca al lupo, Roma!