October 6, 2016 12:16:25 am
IOC President Thomas Bach isn’t getting involved in the “politics” surrounding Rome’s rejection of its 2024 Olympics bid.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Vatican convention on faith and sports Wednesday, Bach said he had been informed of the Rome situation by Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago.
“This is not up to me. I got this information about politics in Italy and I’m here to listen,” Bach said. “You can imagine that this was a very interesting conversation, because politics in Italy is a very interesting topic. So I learned a lot yesterday.”
Rome’s city council voted last week to withdraw the bid, backing the decision of Mayor Virginia Raggi. However, the bid is still supported by Italian Premier Matteo Renzi amid discussion it could be revived if Raggi’s administration falls.
Raggi, who represents the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, said that taking on the costs of an Olympic bid is “irresponsible” for a city struggling to emerge from years of corruption and poor public services.
Raggi also attended the Vatican conference but did not cross paths with Bach.
“I don’t know her,” Bach said.
Rome’s rejection leaves only Los Angeles, Paris, and Budapest, Hungary, in the running for the 2024 Games. The International Olympic Committee will decide on the host city in September 2017.
Bach would not even weigh in on whether Rome’s bid can move forward without the city’s support.
“I will not,” he said. “This is a political discussion here in Italy and the IOC is politically neutral, so we will not interfere in internal Italian politics.”
However, Bach did seem to acknowledge that the IOC’s new Agenda 2020, which is designed to make the games less costly and more flexible, had not been fully taken into consideration by the city.
“Quite frankly I do not think that this discussion has a lot to do with the Olympic Games,” Bach said. “That’s the impression I get, that this is about internal Italian politics.”
International Paralympics Committee Philip Craven spoke as if the bid was dead.
“It’s very disappointing,” Craven told The Associated Press. “I feel it’s a great loss to the race.”
Malago said he will hold a news conference on the bid’s status next week.
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