Promoting its 'incomparable beauty,' Rome submits 2024 bid

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ROME (AP) — Emphasizing its "incomparable beauty" amid a widening corruption scandal, Rome formally submitted its bid for the 2024 Olympics on Friday to mark a turnaround after a 2020 candidacy was scrapped three years ago because of financial concerns.

Mayor Ignazio Marino, bid leader Luca Cordero di Montezemolo and Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago signed the candidate application at City Hall — which overlooks the Roman Forum — and sent it to the International Olympic Committee.

"Thus begins a path of construction and sharing for the capital of a plan that will offer athletes and the entire world the chance to experience the Olympic spirit and emotions in a setting of incomparable beauty," a statement from the Rome committee said.

"No other city in the world can offer an artistic, historical and cultural heritage that stretches over such an ample arc of time, which will allow Olympic competitions to be held in the most spectacular and symbolic places of the Eternal City," the committee added.

With history and culture in mind, Marino suggested earlier this year that medal ceremonies be held inside the Colosseum, which was backed by IOC President Thomas Bach.

Hamburg, Germany, sent in its letter on Wednesday, while Paris, Los Angeles, and Budapest, Hungary, are other declared bidders.

"I don't like talking about competitors but Rome is Rome," Italian Paralympic Committee president Luca Pancalli said.

The IOC deadline for formal submission of bid entries is Tuesday. The host city will be selected in 2017.

Rome, which hosted the 1960 Olympics, was the first city to announce its bid last year and has strong support from Italian Premier Matteo Renzi.

That's a sharp contrast from 2012, when then-premier Mario Monti withdrew Rome's plans to bid for the 2020 Games because of fiscal conditions. The new bid comes with Italy's economy still stagnant and with new revelations surfacing in a widening corruption scandal in Rome that has been labeled "Mafia Capital."

Phone conversations intercepted by police and published in the media have described how local criminal bosses managed to cement ties with city politicians over lucrative public contracts.

Dozens have been arrested and Rome's deputy mayor resigned in July, even though he is not formally under investigation.

At a flashy funeral send-off for a reputed mafia chieftain last month there was a gilded horse-drawn carriage and "Godfather" theme music.

The Rome bid is expected to include many of the venues used for the 1960 Games — notably the Benito Mussolini-inspired Foro Italico complex that includes the athletics and soccer stadium, plus swimming, diving and tennis facilities.

Another area of venues is slated for the half-built Tor Vergata complex on the outskirts of the city. Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the Tor Vergata complex was meant to host events for the 2009 swimming world championships — before the entire event was moved to the Foro Italico.

For several years, the Tor Vergata complex has stood in a state of abandonment. After some differences of opinion, Tor Vergata was selected Friday to host the Olympic village in the bid. City officials had wanted it in northern Rome, where an Olympic welcome park would be constructed instead.

"There are absolutely no problems with the city," Montezemolo said.

Rome is considering a budget of 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) — $2 billion of which would be covered by the IOC — or roughly half of what London spent in 2012.


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