By Duncan Mackay

Mario Pescante_looking_reflectiveFebruary 21 - Mario Pescante has resigned as vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), claiming that he feels "embarrassed" after the Italian Government refused to back Rome's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

The 73-year-old former Italian Sports Minister is one of the most influential and respected members of the IOC and had been the biggest advocate of Rome's campaign, which he was leading as President.

But the bid was killed by Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti last week when, because of the economy crisis currently engulfing the country, he refused to give the Government guarantees necessary for the capital to be able to complete its Applicant City file.

"I feel a bit embarrassed to be representing a country which has thrown in the towel early," said Pescante, who has been an IOC vice-president since 2009.

"Monti's decision was accepted with due respect but...I must say my position in the IOC Executive is no longer compatible with my role."

Pescante claimed that if he was not going to back the campaign then Monti should not have left it until just the day before the deadline to submit the Applicant City file and when rivals Baku, Doha, Istanbul, Madrid and Rome had already lodged their bids.

"It was a negative decision that could have been given sooner considering the IOC's timeline," said Pescante.

"We lack any evidence, but the Olympic Movement for Rome had raised a lot of expectations, we were thinking of a return to the human dimension and this 'last minute' decision is not appropriate at international level.

"It isn't an Expo, it isn't a concert and the nobility of an [Olympic] Movement that is 2,700 years old should have been respected."

Pescante was pessimistic about the Games returning to Rome anytime in the near future for the first time since 1960, believing that Paris will be the clear favourites to host the 2024 Olympics, marking the centenary of the last occasion they were held in the French capital.

"For the future?" he said.

"An Olympic future for Rome could be in 2060, seeing that starting from 2024 the centennial celebrations are due to begin."

The IOC confirmed that they had received Pescante's resignation.

But he will remain as an IOC member.

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