Rome 2024 chair dampens referendum prospects as bid budget doubles

by Matthew Campelli | 13 Jan 2016

The chair of Rome’s 2024 Olympic bid has played down the possibility of holding a public referendum, despite the budget of the bid doubling to €24.9m (£18.7m, US$27m).

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said that he “didn’t see the necessity” of a public vote after the city’s council “voted unanimously” in support of the bid in 2015, although a movement known as Radicali Italiani called for a referendum as the bid budget mushrooms beyond its original €10m (£7.5m, US$10.8m) estimate.

“If someone wants to make publicity in an electoral campaign, let them do it,” he said, according to Associated Press. “But we’re accustomed to institutions. I don’t see the necessity for a referendum right now.”

Montezemolo pointed to the larger bid budgets of Rome’s host rivals, with Paris spending €60m (£45.1m, US$65m) and Los Angeles raising €35m (£26.3m, US$37.9m) in a single week. “We are significantly lower,” he added.

Rome’s bid features 70 per cent existing venues – many of which were built for the 1960 Games – and has an operating budget of €6bn (£4.5bn, US$6.5bn), half of what London spent in 2012.

Hamburg withdrew its application to host the event after its bid was defeated in a referendum, while Budapest, Hungary, is also facing calls for a public vote, although a referendum was rejected by the city council last month.

Last week, the mayor of Boston, Martin Walsh, criticised the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for creating “unrealistic expectations” for a city, while claiming that president Thomas Bach railed against a referendum when the city was bidding for the 2024 Games.

“The president of the IOC didn’t want a ballot question, and ironically his own town in Hamburg voted down the Olympics,” he told the Boston Herald. “I think at some point the Olympic movement as a whole, worldwide, has to start to say, ‘OK, how do we deliver a Games?’”

Boston pulled out of a bid following public opposition, leaving Los Angeles free to represent America as its candidate city. The host city for the 2024 Olympic Games will be chosen in 2017 in Lima, Peru.

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The chair of Rome’s 2024 Olympic bid has played down the possibility of holding a public referendum, despite the budget of the bid doubling to €24.9m (£18.7m, US$27m). Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said that he “didn’t see the necessity” of a public vote after the city’s council “voted unanimously” in support of the bid in 2015, although a movement known as Radicali Italiani called for a referendum as the bid
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Rome's Stadio Olympico is one of the existing venues which would be used at the 2024 Games / Fellner Tami/Shutterstock.com
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