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Arrivederci, Roma: Mayor's Refusal to Endorse Dooms the 2024 Olympic Bid

11 Oct, 2016

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
History Will Reflect the New Phenomenon of Cities Refusing to Host Games

And then there were three: Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris.

The announcement that Rome’s mayor, Virginia Raggi, has formally refused to support a bid for the city to host the 2024 Olympic Games was not entirely unexpected, but came as a blow to supporters nonetheless.

Roma 2024 had been working to enlist the mayor’s aid, even getting the support of Pope Francis, but in the end, it could not manage to sustain its bid in the face of the fiscally conservative Five Star Movement Party, long an opponent of bringing the Games to Italy. One of Raggi’s trump cards in her argument was a claim that the city was still paying back debts from the Games it hosted in 1960.

"We want to escape the big events that bring money and debts," she said. "We want something more for Rome, 70 per cent of citizens said no to the Games. We are effectively asking the people of Rome and Italy to shoulder the debts and we don't support it.”

While history will always record where Olympic Games were held, the past two years will be remembered in sports business as a time when not just Rome but multiple other cities voluntarily backed away from the Olympic bargaining table. Four potential bidders for the 2022 winter Olympics backed out following public opposition over potential costs and disruption. (As an aside, that left only two contenders, Almaty (in Kazakhstan) and Beijing (who won the campaign.)

The summer 2024 Olympics also saw the withdrawal of Boston (eventually replaced with Los Angeles as the U.S. bid city) and Hamburg, Germany (which used a public referendum to defeat the measure.) Trivia point: The #NoBostonOlympics group was involved in helping Hamburg’s anti-Games group with its work.)

The host city election for the 2024 Games takes place in Lima, Peru on September 13, 2017. That gives the various candidate cities time to work on their bids, their venues and ultimately the public support for their campaigns.

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