A widely expected Rome bid for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics has been confirmed today, just two years after the Italian Government scrapped its bid for the 2020 edition due to financial problems.
Speaking at the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) headquarters in the capital, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi declared the bid open but insisted it would be sustainable and affordable.
"The Italian Government, together with CONI, is ready to do its part for a project that isn't based on great infrastructures or big dreams but rather great people," he said.
"We will be at the vanguard for all the spending controls.
"Our country too often seems hesitant, it's unacceptable not to try...or to renounce playing the game.
"Italy has all it needs to face its problems - you can't not dream."
Rome's only Olympic Games came in 1960, although Turin hosted the 2006 Winter version and Rome was awarded the 1908 Olympics before relinquishing the hosting rights to London two years beforehand after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
The capital also bid unsuccessfully for the 1924, 1936 and 2004 editions, as well as the 2020 contest won by Tokyo.
Rome abandoned this bid in 2012, with then Prime Minister Mario Monti noting "it would not be responsible in the current conditions in Italy to take on these guarantees [for the Games]".
Earlier this year, Rome's City Council was bailed out by the Central Government in evidence of lingering financial problems, while Turin is still recovering from hosting a Games almost 82 per cent over budget.
The bid has already been criticised in some quarters, with right-wing leader Matteo Salvini of the Lega Nord party describing the Prime Minister's proposal as "dangerous".
"We still have the white elephants of the Turin Winter Olympics and we're still paying off debts from the Rome 2009 World Swimming Championships," he added, according to Agence France-Presse.
But Italian officials have no doubt been encouraged by the Agenda 2020 changes passed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Monte Carlo last week, which should reduce the cost of bidding, offer more IOC support, and possibly allow more events to be held outside the host city to maximise existing venues.
Renzi duly said that while many of the 1960 Olympic venues would be used, others beyond the capital will also be considered, with sailing and preliminary matches in football, basketball and volleyball among those which could be held elsewhere.
"The bid will obviously be centered on Rome," he said.
"But it will also involve Florence, Naples and Sardinia. ... We're making this bid to win."
Among potential rivals for Rome, there is widely expected to be a bid from the United States, from a shortlist of Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., with a further announcement due on Tuesday (December 16).
In terms of European rivals, Germany are expected to put forward either Berlin or Hamburg, while Paris, Istanbul and Budapest are also considering bids.
Baku, Doha and either Pretoria or Gauteng Province in South Africa are other potential contenders.
Although the deadline for confirming bids is September 15, a special invitation phase for the 2024 Olympic bid process will start on January 15, with the IOC keen to provide more consultation with cities in order to generate more popular support.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
December 2014: Italian Prime Minister set to unveil Rome 2024 Olympic bid
December 2014: Agenda 2020 has created "historic opportunity" for Budapest Olympic bid, claims leading official
December 2014: Italy planning 2023 Rugby World Cup bid as part of major event triple header
April 2014: Rome speed up plans for 2024 Olympic bid but still lack Government support
March 2014: Exclusive: Rome 2024 bid unaffected by financial problems, claim CONI