Rome 2024 bid will put Colosseum, Circus Maximus to use

ROME (AP) — A cycling sprint alongside the Roman Forum. Beach volleyball at the Circus Maximus. The marathon passing through St. Peter’s Square and finishing under the Arch of Constantine. A nightly parade of athletes at the Colosseum.

Rome’s historic monuments are at the center of the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympics, details of which were revealed Wednesday as four candidates including the Italian capital submitted their first detailed bid files to the International Olympic Committee.

“Customer satisfaction is fundamental for the athletes, their families and the spectators,” bid chief and former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said. “Here they will be able to take in the culture and touch things with their hands that maybe they have only seen on TV or studied in school.”

At an extravagant presentation produced by the same company handling ceremonies for this year’s Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Rome organizers also revealed their bid theme — “The Italian art of the welcome.”

“We want to offer athletes’ families the chance to travel by train to Florence and admire the Uffizi Gallery and then go to Naples and Pompeii the next day — for free,” Montezemolo said. “Who else can offer that?”

The IOC will select the 2024 host city in September 2017. Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest, Hungary, are the other bidders.

Promoting Italy’s artistic heritage, Montezemolo announced that composer Ennio Morricone — of “Spaghetti Western” fame — would create the bid’s anthem.

Relying on many venues that were used for the 1960 Games in Rome, the candidacy proposes using existing structures for 70 percent of the required sites. The games budget is projected at 5.3 billion euros ($6 billion) — 2.1 billion euros for the construction of permanent venues and the balance for temporary venues.

Permanent venues would include an athletes village and multi-sports arena at the Tor Vergata University on the city’s outskirts, media facilities and a cycling velodrome.

The temporary venues could largely be covered by IOC contributions, organizers said.

Rome has already signed sponsorship contracts with Etihad-Alitalia airlines, the banks BNL-BNP Paribas and insurer UnipolSai , said Montezemolo, who’s also president of Alitalia.

Organizers said the games would create 177,000 jobs and contribute 2.9 billion euros in economic benefits for the area.

The bid is based on three clusters: the existing Stadio Olimpico and surrounding Foro Italico complex for athletics and swimming; the Fiera convention center near the airport for indoor sports; and Tor Vergata.

“If we had the opening ceremony tomorrow at the Stadio Olimpico, we could then host athletics or swimming immediately,” Montezemolo said. “We’re ready.”

Diving would be held in the statue-studded Pietrangeli tennis arena while tennis is slated for a temporary hard-court facility in Tor Vergata.

The media centers would be built in Saxa Rubra, headquarters of Italian state TV Rai.

The small, left-wing movement Radicali Italiani is calling for a public referendum on the bid, citing spiraling costs of recent games.

Nino Benvenuti, a boxing gold medalist in 1960, was a guest of honor at the presentation, which drew a crowd of thousands that also included Marcello Lippi, coach of the Italy team that won the 2006 World Cup.


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