Rome, Sep 21 (IANS/AKI) Rome’s grassroots Mayor Virginia Raggi has rejected a bid to host the 2024 Olympics as financially “irresponsible” for the cash-strapped capital, a move that has effectively dealt a fatal blow to its candidacy.
“This is our position: It is irresponsible to say yes to this candidature,” she told a packed media conference on Wednesday.
“We are effectively asking the people of Rome and of Italy to shoulder the debts (accrued by hosting the Games). We just don’t support it.”
She produced figures on the debts that previous Olympic host cities have incurred.
“In light of the data we have, these Olympics are not sustainable. They will bring only debt,” Raggi said.
Raggi had earlier been due to meet with Italy’s Olympic Committee (Coni) President Giovanni Malago but failed to show up for the discussion, Italian media reported.
Malago was due to hold a news conference later at Coni headquarters. He said last week that Coni would abandon its bid to host the Games in the event Raggi refused to give her backing.
If approved by the city assembly, Raggi’s rejection will leave Paris, Budapest and Los Angeles still in the running.
The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city in September 2017.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, has deplored Raggi and her Five Star movement’s stance, dismissing the claim that the money could be better spent and has said the Olympic bid would be doomed if Rome’s mayor didn’t support it.
The IOC requires bidders to have support from the government and city.
A budget of 24 million euros has already been allotted to the bid committee, much of which has been spent.
Raggi, who was elected in June, campaigned with the message that an Olympic bid was unsustainable for a city struggling to leave behind years of corruption and poor public services.
During her campaign, Raggi promised to fix Rome’s transport, garbage and corruption scandals and said the city needed to focus on everyday issues before taking on “extraordinary events” like the Olympics.
Her rejection of the capital’s Olympic bid marks Rome’s second withdrawal in four years after then-premier Mario Monti nixed the city’s plans to bid for the 2020 Olympics on economic grounds.