By Duncan Mackay

Mario Pescante_in_front_of_picture_of_RomeFebruary 3 - Rome must continue to play a waiting game to see whether they will be able to bid for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics after Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti refused to be rushed into a decision amid a warning from Mario Pescante that the delay could prove fatal to the campaign even if does go-ahead.

Rome officials had hoped that a meeting of the Council of Ministers today would give them the Government endorsement that they require but Monti instead revealed that he will wait until February 14 - just a day before the deadline for candidates to hand in their Applicant Files to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne. 

"The Government will make a decision within the established timeline, February 14, and since the topic in question is of extreme importance I don't think it is wise to anticipate a positive or negative decision prior to that time," said Monti.

But Pescante, Italy's former Sports Minister and now the head of Rome 2020, claimed that the waiting is sending out the wrong messages. 

"This delay could give the IOC members the impression that there is not overall consensus and, if the decision should not be for Rome, that this Government and future Governments might not be totally behind the city for the Games," said Pescante, the vice-president of the IOC.

"Last minute decisions work fine for buying airline tickets, but certainly not in this case.

"Other possible candidatures such as Spain [Madrid] and Azerbaijan [Baku] have already decided long ago, we are on the last lap of the stopwatch."

Rome officials, though, continue to try to remain optimistic despite the severe economic crisis in Italy that is making Monti hesitate in backing the bid. 

Gianni Alemanno_behind_Rome_2020_logo
"There will be no decision by the Council of Ministers today," said Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno (pictured).

"We'll wait for them to finish their work in order to meet with President Monti as well as Mr. [Enrico] Letta [the deputy head of the centre-left Democratic Party who is part of Monti's Coalition Government], who is working specifically on this point.

"This will all be resolved next week and, I'm convinced, in a positive manner." 

Gianni Petrucci, the President of CONI, the Italian Olympic Committee, shared Alemanno's optimism.

"If it was a no [from Monti], it probably would have already arrived," he said.

"I do not even take into account a no from the Government."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
January 2012: Mennea is wrong about Rome 2020 Olympic bid, claims gold medallist
January 2012: Rome forced to sweat by Italian Prime Minister on 2020 Olympic bid
January 2012: Exclusive - Rome 2020 officials admit Prime Minister "prudent" about bid but sure he will back it
January 2012: "Nothing better than the Olympics to relaunch Italian economy" claim Rome 2020
October 2011: Rome 2020 appoints lead technical partner