Letta spurs Olympics hopes in Rome, Milan

Capital has head start in terms of facilities

Letta spurs Olympics hopes in Rome, Milan

(By Paul Virgo). Rome, September 9 - Premier Enrico Letta has said an Italian city may bid to host the 2024 Olympics, but some northerners want Milan to run for the event instead of the capital. Rome was considered one of the favourites to land the 2020 Olympics before former premier Mario Monti decided last year to drop its bid due to concerns about the cost in a time of financial and economic crisis. But Letta said that Italy could consider a bid for the 2024 Games after the International Olimpic Committee (IOC) voted in Buenos Aires to award the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo at the weekend. If Madrid's bid for the 2020 Games had prevailed, it would have effectively ruled Italy out of hosting the following Olympics, as the IOC tends to alternate continents when awarding sport's biggest event. "What happened in Buenos Aires makes me think that Italy can bid for the 2024 Olympics," Letta said. Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino said the capital was ready. "There are the right conditions for Rome to bid to host the Games because the city has all the necessary requirements," Marino said. "I'll request a meeting soon with Premier Letta and the president of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), Giovanni Malagò". Three-time Olympic canoeing gold medalist Antonio Rossi, Italy's flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Games in Beijing, believes Rome should not be the automatic choice. "I don't want to open a diatribe with Rome, but Milan has its credentials too," Rossi said. Lombardy Governor Roberto Maroni has said he will ask Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia to stage a bid for Milan to be Italy's candidate for the 2024 Olympics, saying the site of Expo 2015 could be used for some events. However, Pisapia said Italy's business capital will not get into a bitter fight with Rome over the Games. "I've just spoken to Ignazio Marino and I can guarantee that if the 2024 Olympics will be in Italy, there won't be any clash between the cities and we'll take a decision together," said Pisapia, who like Marino was elected at the helm of a centre-left alliance. Marino said Monday that he saw the battle for the Olympics as being against the rest of the world and not against Milan. Rome has several advantages over Milan, including the fact that it has a proven track record in holding major sporting events. It hosted the 1960 Olympics and carried off a largely successful edition of the World Swimming Championships in 2009. Many of the required sports facilities are up and running and would only need upgrading. These include the Stadio Olimpico which, unlike Milan's San Siro, has a running track for athletics, and the pool used for the swimming races at the 2009 world championships Furthermore, Rome is more beautiful than Milan and generally enjoys better weather. The Milanese say their city is more modern and efficient. Italy's Mario Pescante, an IOC board member who was the head of the committee promoting Rome's 2020 bid, said the Italian capital is in with a good chance if it runs again. "Premier Letta wanted to give out a signal of optimism about an event that will take place in 2024," said Pescante, who quit as IOC vice-president after Monti sank Rome's bid for the 2020 Olympics. "In this way he's showing that Italy is getting back on track and looking to the future with confidence... "At the IOC Italy and Rome are well liked".

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