With a backdrop including the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Circus Maximus, Italian officials are hoping the ‘great beauty’ of Rome is enough to secure them the 2024 Olympic Games. But at a glitzy and detailed presentation of their official candidacy in Rome on Wednesday, bid candidacy president Luca Di Montezemolo admitted that keeping a watchful eye on their spending budget would be among their priorities. ‘The building blocks of our project are total transparency, a ‘low-cost’ approach and bringing general improvement to the city,’ said Di Montezemolo.
With the Colosseum as their emblem and the city’s major tourist attractions as venues, Rome intends to build on its strengths and existing infrastructure to avoid, like its rivals, unnecessary and unpopular costs. Di Montezemolo, the former Ferrari chief, claims 70 % of the facilities required to host events around Rome, which hosted the 1960 Games, are already in place.
In a bid to avoid constructing ‘white elephant’ stadiums or venues, the construction of temporary venues is in the pipeline. ‘More than 70 per cent of the sites are already available. If we had to organise the opening ceremony tomorrow, as well as the athletics and swimming events, we could,’ said Di Montezemolo. The race to host the 2024 Olympics began in earnest Wednesday with the four bid cities — Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome —
all presenting their initial candidature files to the International Olympic Committee. Rome believes the stunning backdrop of some of its famous historical sites offers competitors, spectators and millions of viewers around the the chance to take a unique trip back in time. Athletes would step up to receive their medals in front of the Colosseum, the cycling road races would be held around the ancient sites of the Fori Imperiali and archery events would be held at the Baths of Caracalla. The marathon races would pass by St. Peter’s Basilica, a synagogue and a mosque and the Circus Maximus — in antiquity, the venue that hosted brutal chariot races. A Rome Olympics would be held around three key centres: the Foro Italico, built in the 1920s and completed, notably the Stadio Olimpico, ahead of the 1960 Games, the Fiera di Roma and Tor Vergata, which would host the Olympic Village.
Di Montezemolo said their budget for permanent venues (pricipally the Olympic Village and the press centre), would rise to 2.1 bn (billion) euros. ‘It’s our plan to build temporary venues. We don’t want to be left with any white elephants,’ he said.