Italian premier Enrico Letta has suggested that Italy could put itself forward as a candidate for the 2024 Olympics, causing friction between Rome and Milan over which city would be better equipped to host the sporting event.
Letta made his remarks after the International Olympic Commmittee (IOC) voted in Buenos Aires on 8 September to select Tokyo – over Madrid and Istanbul – as the host of the 2020 Olympic games. "What happened in Buenos Aires makes me think that Italy can bid for the 2024 Olympics" Letta said, although he failed to specify which Italian city he had in mind.
It is believed that Letta was referring to Tokyo's victory against the odds; Japan had to work hard to allay concerns over its Fukushima nuclear plant which was damaged during the country's 2011 tsunami. Also potentially in Italy's favour is the fact that near neighbour Spain was ruled out of the 2020 Olympics, as the IOC tends to alternate continents when selecting host countries.
Politicians and sporting figures in Rome and Milan were quick to canvas support for their respective cities. Leading the charge was Rome mayor Ignazio Marino who said "There are the right conditions for Rome to host the games because the city has all the necessary requirements." Marino said he would be requesting a meeting with Letta and the president of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Giovanni Malagò to discuss the idea further.
The Lombardy governor Roberto Maroni is keen for Milan to put itself forward as a candidate, as is Antonio Rossi, the former Olympic champion canoeist and current sports councillor of the Lombardy region. "I don't want to trigger a row with Rome – said Rossi – but Milan has the facilities of the Expo : with the construction of a stadium and a swimming pool in the area, after 2016, Milan would have more of a chance."
However, after speaking with his Rome counterpart, Milan's mayor Giuliano Pisapia said his city would not be at loggerheads with the capital. "I can guarantee that if the 2024 Olympics were to be in Italy, there won't be any clash between the cities and we'll take a decision together," he said.
Rome was regarded as one of the favourites for the 2020 Olympics before former prime minister Mario Monti decided last year to abandon the city's bid over financial concerns. The Italian capital hosted the 1960 Olympics as well as the World Swimming Championships in 2009.