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Monti Government Won’t Back Rome Bid for 2020 Olympic Games

Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti
Mario Monti, Italy's prime minister. Photographer: Jock Fistick/Bloomberg

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said his government won’t back a bid by the city of Rome to host the 2020 summer Olympics because supporting the candidacy would be a drain on public resources.

“We don’t think it would be consistent to commit Italy” to financially guarantee the bid, which “could put at risk the money of taxpayers,” Monti said after a Cabinet meeting in Rome today, the deadline for cities to deliver their bid proposals.

Without the government’s financial backing, Rome can’t proceed with its bid to host the games, which were last staged in the Italian capital in 1960. The Olympics would cost Italy about 10 billion euros ($13 billion), almost all of which would be paid from state funds, Green Party leader Angelo Bonelli told Ansa newswire today.

Monti’s government passed 20 billion euros in budget cuts and tax increases in December to try to eliminate the budget deficit in 2013 and cut debt to shield Italy from the fallout from the region’s debt crisis. Moody’s Investors Service lowered the nation’s credit rating yesterday, after downgrades by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings last month. Monti said it wouldn’t be “responsible” to back the games after having asked Italians to make sacrifices.

“It’s a shame for the Olympic movement that Rome is pulling out of the 2020 race as the games need strong candidate cities,” said Lucien Boyer, chief executive officer of Havas Sports & Entertainment, a communications company that advised Annecy, France on its failed bid for the 2018 winter games. “It is a reflection of both the challenging state of the European economy and the changing landscape in major sports bidding.”

Spanish ‘Dream’

The Spanish government, which is also trying to clean up its finances, agreed to back Madrid’s bid for the games, which the city presented today. Doha and Tokyo submitted bids this week, while Istanbul and Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, had also planned offers to host the Olympics.

“Spending cuts are important, but having a dream, a perspective for the future of the country is important as well,” Gianni Petrucci, president of the Italian National Olympic Committee, told SKY TG24 television. “Spain took a different decision: They want to have a dream.”

Madrid was a finalist for the 2016 Games before losing out to Rio de Janeiro in the final selection in October 2009.

The International Olympic Committee will vote on the site of the 2020 Olympics in Buenos Aires in September of next year.

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