February 13 - Rome's proposed campaign to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics is hanging in the balance tonight - less than 48 hours before the Applicant City file is due to be delivered - after confusion emerged about whether or not Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti has a meeting scheduled tomorrow to discuss the bid.
Earlier in the day Gianni Alemanno, the Mayor of the Italian capital, announced that he was due to hold talks in the morning with Monti about whether he would provide the Government guarantees demanded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by the deadline on Wednesday (Febuary 15).
But then a spokesman at the Palazzo Chigi, the residence of the Italian Prime Minister, claimed that no such meetings were due to take place.
The drama is being played out while Alemanno has had to deal with criticism at how Rome has been brought to a virtual standstill by its biggest snowfall there for 26 years.
Rome's schools have been closed as a precaution, and monuments including the Colosseum were shut to the public for fear tourists could fall on ice.
Italy's main political parties have tabled motions in support of the bid, joining letters sent to Monti last week by some of Italy's top sportsmen and women and cultural icons, including Oscar winners Giuseppe Tornatore and Ennio Morricone, who all back Alemanno's claims that a successful Olympic campaign could help revive the country's economy.
Meanwhile, informal briefings against the bid also appear to have taken place, with senior officials in Italy claiming that Greece, who hosted the 2004 Olympics but is now facing bankruptcy, is an example of why Rome should not put themselves forward.
"Greece is there to show how the Olympics could have a disastrous impact on public finances of a country," an unnamed Government source reportedly told the Italian media.
London, which has budgeted £9.35 billion ($14.75 billion/€11.20 billion) for this year's Games, is also being held up as an example, with officials warning that the cost of upgrading the infrastructure in Rome would be far higher than in the British capital.
Alemanno remains, publicly at least, optimistic despite having had to watch rivals Doha and Tokyo today hand in their Applicant Files to the IOC in Lausanne with Baku, Istanbul and Madrid set to follow suit in the next two days.
He hopes that new details he has presented to Monti that he has secured €380 million (£318 million/$500 million) in private funding to help build new facilities for the Olympics at Tor Vergata Sports City, including a velodrome and two news stadiums that would host volleyball, gymnastics, trampoline, and basketball, will help persuade him that the burden on the public purse will be reduced.
"I am confident, the choice can only be positive," he said following a meeting with the Mario Pescante (pictured right), the head of Rome 2020 and the vice-president of the IOC, and Gianni Petrucci (left), the President of CONI, Italy's Olympic Committee.
"Monti is an intelligent person and very strict, he wanted to see the cards until the end.
"The important thing is not the meeting but response.
"And still there will be a meeting."
There has also been some encouragement for Rome 2020 from Corrado Clini, Italy's Environment Minister, who has backed the bid.
"I do not have a chance to say whether the Government will support the candidature of Rome, but I hope so," he said.
"It would be a great opportunity for Rome."
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