Rome set to withdraw bid for 2024 Olympic Games

The Italian capital’s bid is effectively over after the city’s new mayor, Virginia Raggi, refused to support it.

Rome set to withdraw bid for 2024 Olympic Games
The Colosseum is one of Rome's most famous attractions | Source: Anadolu Agency

The bidding to hold the 2024 Summer Olympic Games is set to come down to three competitors after the new mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, refused to back the Italian capital’s bid to host sport’s largest event for the second time.

Raggi, who was elected the mayor of the city in June, publicly opposed the bid during her campaign for the mayorship, and her stance has not changed since being elected, saying it would be “irresponsible” to host the event due to the excessive amount of debt it would lead to.

Following the previous withdrawals of bids from Hamburg and Boston, only three cities are left in the running; Los Angeles, Paris, and Budapest, which is the only one of the three remaining candidates not to have hosted the Olympics in the past.

Hosting the Olympics not a popular idea

Italy has struggled immensely in the past decade with financial issues, and the idea of hosting the Olympics was met with little support by Romans, who did not want to spend billions of euros on the games.

Virginia Raggi announcing today that she would not back Rome's bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics (AFP/Tiziana Fabi)
Virginia Raggi announcing today that she would not back Rome's bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics Source: Tiziana Fabi - AFP
 

Raggi, a member of the 5-Star Movement, who strongly opposed the idea of hosting the games, today announced in a statement that she would not support the bid, effectively ending it; any bid has to receive support from local government officials.

"It would be irresponsible for us to support this candidacy. We have nothing against the Olympics and sport ... but we don't want sport to be an excuse for more rivers of cement in the city. We won't allow that."

The impending withdrawal is another blow to the Olympic movement, which is struggling to persuade officials and local people that the positives of hosting the games outweigh the negatives. Boston withdrew its bid due to financial issues, whilst Hamburg withdrew after a referendum showed the city’s residents were not in favor of hosting the games.

Furthermore, the $12 billion Brazil spent on Rio 2016 has crippled the country, leading to severe political unrest.

Official campaign expresses disappointment, refuses to give up hope

Though it seems highly unlikely that the bid will continue, the leader of the campaign, Giovanni Malago, said the bid would continue until the formal decision is made.

Giovanni Malago speaks to the media after Virginia Raggi failed to show up to a meeting about the games (AFP/Tiziana Fabbi)
Giovanni Malago speaks to the media after Virginia Raggi failed to show up to a meeting about the games | Tiziana Fabi - AFP
 

"Roma 2024 was the chance to change a lot of things. Without the Games this won't be possible. The City Council will be responsible for what they have announced today, we are going on until the formal decision"

On Twitter, the official campaign has been posting with Hashtag #ROMASENZEFUTURO (“Rome With No Future”), claiming that the city will not progress without the bid.