Italy’s Olympic chief insists Rome 2024 Olympic bid will go on

Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago gestures during a press conference in Rome on 21 SeptemberImage copyright

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Giovanni Malago was left waiting for a meeting with the mayor, who failed to turn up

The Italian Olympic chief has reacted angrily to the refusal of the mayor of Rome to support the city’s bid to host the 2024 Games.

Calling the decision “demagogic and populist”, Giovanni Malago insisted the project was financially viable.

Mayor Virginia Raggi rejected the bid on Wednesday on the grounds that it would be “irresponsible”, and would leave the Italian capital indebted.

Boston and Hamburg have already dropped out of the running for the 2024 Games.

“Hearing ‘no’ hurts,” the head of the Italian Olympic Committee said. “I’m very sorry. It was possible to do this, and do it well. We will continue [with the bid] until I hear a formal no.”

“Is there an alternative project for the city that will create new jobs?” he asked.

“Is there an alternative that will give answers to the young citizens aged 18 to 25? For the first time not even one of the environmental organisations opposed the project. Even the trade unions backed it.”

Why Raggi said no: Analysis by James Reynolds, BBC News, Rome

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Roma 2024

In ancient times here, Roman emperors offered the thrill of bread and circuses to appease and divert a restless population.

That tactic, it seems, no longer works. These days, Rome is a city which can barely pick up its own rubbish.

Among many Romans, the idea of hosting an Olympic Games hasn’t provoked much enthusiasm. The new mayor knows that. She comes from the populist Five Star Movement, which has strongly opposed a bid for the Games.

Ms Raggi has had a difficult first few weeks in power. Her tenure has been overshadowed by accusations of mismanagement and cover-ups. Rejecting the Olympics may be her way of winning back popularity and asserting her own authority over the city.

Raggi finds it tough at the top

Ms Raggi, from the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, suggested that Rome would have been left with redundant sports facilities.

“No to cathedrals in the desert,” she said, adding that Rome was still paying out for the Games it hosted in 1960.

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Virginia Raggi told reporters that she was not prepared to allow the city to sink further into debt

Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest are still vying to host the Games.

The International Olympic Committee will elect the host at a vote in Lima, Peru, in September 2017, with Paris considered the favourite.

How much does it cost to host the Olympics?

Rome bid officials set a budget of €5.3bn (£4.5bn; $6bn) to host the Games, with a plan to use existing venues for 70% of the sites.

That was a template used by Los Angeles in 1984, when existing stadiums and other facilities were used and the Games made a profit. LA’s projected 2024 budget is $4.5bn (£3.5bn), with a hoped-for profit of $150m (£115m).

But most cities have made a loss. The 2004 Athens Games cost almost €9bn and increased Greece’s public debt.

The 2016 Rio Games cost an estimated $12bn (£9.2bn).

London 2012 went three times over budget and cost £8.77bn ($11.4bn), although the event boosted trade and investment by an estimated £9.9bn.

Has the Olympics been a success for Brazil?

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