September 29, 2016 - 11:49 AM
ROME - As far as city leaders are concerned, Rome's bid for the 2024 Olympics is finished.
The city council voted in favour of scrapping the bid on Thursday, a week after Mayor Virginia Raggi rejected the candidacy, citing concerns over costs.
"It was irresponsible to say yes to the candidacy," Raggi wrote on Facebook. "We wanted to say no to more debts for Rome and for Italy."
The anti-bid motion passed easily, as expected, by 30-12 since Raggi's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement holds a majority on the city council.
The 5-Star Movement holds 29 of the 48 council places, and all 29 voted in support of the mayor's rejection. There was also one supporting vote from an opposition party. Six council members were absent.
The rejection leaves only Los Angeles, Paris, and Budapest, in the running for the 2024 Games. The International Olympic Committee will decide on the host city in September 2017.
However, Rome bid leaders and the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) are hanging on to hope that the bid can somehow be revived, perhaps if Raggi is ousted from office.
IOC President Thomas Bach will be in Rome next Tuesday for a sports and faith conference at the Vatican.
"We'll decide what to do after meeting Bach on Tuesday," CONI president Giovanni Malago said.
The IOC told Italian media that it was following the events in Rome and was in contact with the bid committee and CONI to "make sense of these political circumstances."
It's the second time in four years that a Rome Olympic bid has been rejected. In 2012, then-premier Mario Monti scrapped the city's bid for the 2020 Olympics because of financial concerns.
Under previous mayor Ignazio Marino, Rome's 2024 bid was approved by the city assembly last year with 38 votes in favour and only six against. Italian Premier Matteo Renzi was a strong supporter of the bid.
"Today came the definitive 'No' on the Olympics," Renzi said. "It's legitimate but we've certainly made a bad impression internationally.
"But what's shocking isn't the decision but rather it's saying that you can't have the Olympics because it's bad business. Thousands of jobs will be lost for giving up."
Raggi, a lawyer who was elected in June as Rome's first female mayor, cited worries over costs and budget overruns as reasons for rejecting the bid in a city that can barely collect its trash, and keep up other basic public services.
At the same session, another motion was passed by the city council asking the government to provide 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion) for refurbishing sports venues in the city and for general urban improvements.
"We're continuing to work for the city," Raggi wrote.
The latest rejection is another signal that the IOC still has a lot of work to do to convince cities that hosting the games is a boon and not a burden. Earlier Thursday, a city government panel in Tokyo warned that the cost of the 2020 Olympics could exceed $30 billion, more than four times the initial estimates.
Voters in Hamburg rejected the German city's 2024 bid in a referendum, and Boston dropped out last year amid a lack of public and political support and was replaced as the U.S. candidate by Los Angeles.
Four cities withdrew during the bidding for the 2022 Winter Games, leaving only two candidates in the field. Beijing, hardly known as a winter sports destination, defeated Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf
News from © The Associated Press, 2016