The Mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, announced yesterday that the city is withdrawing its bid to host the Olympic games in 2024.
The mayor said Rome was still paying out for the last time it held the Games in 1960.
“No to the Olympics of concrete, absolutely not! No to cathedrals in the desert,” she said during the press conference, suggesting that Rome would have been invaded by concrete, investment speculation and huge debt after the Olympics.
The 38-years-old Raggi is the youngest and first female mayor in the history of the city. She was elected as top candidate of the Five Star Movement, the populist party that already in the electoral campaign promised to firmly oppose the Olympic Games in the Italian capital.
In the past Rome has also withdrawn their bid for the 2020 Olympics.
Raggis’ decision sparkled furious reactions in the government and sport institutions. In a press conference later on Wednesday the Italian Olympic Committee chief Giovanni Malagò fiercely stated that he will fight on to make sure Rome will run for the Olympics despite Raggis’ decision.
Malagò was outraged because he claimed that the mayor dodged a meeting that was supposed to take place before the press conference.
After more than half an hour of delay, Malagò decided to leave the city hall alleging that Raggi was still sitting at a local restaurant, as Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports.
“We deserved more respect. The mayor should have shown the sporting world in this country more attention” complained Malagò.
The committee chief said that Rome will miss a great opportunity to create new jobs, and claimed that the bid was backed for the first time even by “environmental organisations” and “trade unions”.
Malagò has still some cards to play. On Thursday he will meet the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi where he will try to convince him to put pressure the city administration to intervene on the matter.
Malagò also hopes that Raggi will call for a referendum on the decision, following the example of the city of Hamburg last year.
However, Raggi already rejected this possibility. “Referendum? The citizens already stated their opinion on the Olympics when they elected me last June” she stated.
Rome’s decision comes after the cities of Boston in the United States and Hamburg, Germany, already dropped out from the race for the 2024 games.
The city of Hamburg adopted the decision after the referendum held in November of last year saw 52% of its citizens being against the bid.
The remaining candidates ahead of the final deadline to present their applications are now only Paris, Budapest and Los Angeles.