Italy pitches Olympic bid as way to clean up scandal-plagued Rome

Mon Jan 11, 2016 2:39pm EST
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ROME (Reuters) - Italy's attempt to host the 2024 Olympic Games is a chance to clean up the scandal-plagued capital city Rome, the bid's chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said on Monday.

Some have questioned whether the city can manage the lucrative contracts associated with the Olympics - which cost the last host city London some 9 billion pounds ($13.1 billion) - in a transparent way.

A major mafia trial is under way after news broke in late 2014 that a criminal ring had allegedly been skimming millions of euros off city hall contracts for years - seeming to partially explain Rome's creaking infrastructure.

But former Ferrari boss Montezemolo said there would be strong controls in place to prevent corruption, and hosting the Games would help motivate the city to change.

"If what happened a year and (a few) months ago had come in the next one or two years it would have caused big problems," Montezemolo told the foreign press club in Rome.

"I think this is important precisely to clear the ground and envisage the Rome of tomorrow," he added.

Budapest, Paris and Los Angeles are also bidding for the 2024 Summer Games, to follow Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. The International Olympic Committee will name the winner in 2017.

The northern Germany city of Hamburg had also been in the running until its citizens voted against the candidacy in a referendum. This was a blow to the IOC which has brought in reforms to try to make the Games more attractive to bidding cities after a string of withdrawals.

A small political group called Radicali Italiani has called for a similar referendum in Italy, raising the alarm over costs, but Montezemolo said he saw no need for this after Rome's city council and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi both backed the plan.   Continued...

Chairman for Rome's Olympic bid Luca Cordero di Montezemolo speaks during a news conference at the headquarters of foreign press in Rome, January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi