Malagò: "Rome's 2024 bid ended. We are going to present Milan as a candidate for the 2019 IOC session"
- Published: 11 October 2016
CONI president Giovanni Malagò, along with Vice President of the Organising Committee of Rome 2024, Luca Pancalli, and the General Coordinator of the Committee, Diana Bianchedi, today held a press conference at the Salone d'Onore to make an announcement regarding the Capital's bid for the 33rd edition of the Summer Olympics.
These are the main parts of Malagò's speech. "Today is a day for clarity. This morning I wrote a letter to the IOC stating we have suspended Rome's bid for 2024. Perhaps not everyone knows - but we are here to clarify the matter - that the IOC only recognises Olympic Committees as institutional interlocutors. Anyone can write to the IOC, but the only letter that matters is that of the President of the Olympic Committee. I always said that to carry out this project we needed three legs. From the beginning we had these, but one of them - for ideological and demagogic reasons only - is now missing. Therefore, against my wishes, I have been forced to put a stop to the process eleven months from its completion, and after almost three years of lobbying to create consensus abroad on a project that - believe me - would have been hard to beat. Interrupting the process just eleven months from the decision, however, is not a record. There is a similar sad, yet very telling, precedent that I will mention to make you realise what damage has been perpetrated against Italian sport on this occasion. On the 4th of April 1974, the Canadian city of Vancouver bidding for the 1980 Winter Olympic Games pulled out of the race six months before the candidate city was revealed, leaving America's Lake Placid as the only bidder. The then Canadian IOC member James Worrall wrote to the local governors of British Columbia describing that choice as a decision "typically myopic and based on erroneous and parish thought".
Well, after that refusal Vancouver only managed to have the Games in 2010, some 30 years later. It is true that during that time, Canada was awarded twice (Montreal and Calgary), but I think Vancouver paid a significant price for that decision. Rome and Italy are now facing a similar story. I have the right and duty to protect the image of my world that, I remind you, had sided unanimously in favour of the bid, trying politically for the Italian sports system and Italian Economic System to once again become credible in the eyes of the International Olympic world. In these days of bitterness and suffering I have studied alternative solutions, I have discussed with my stakeholders, I have verified the feasibility of new pathways that allow IOC members to see in a different light (and perhaps more realistic) just how Italy feels toward the Olympic world.
Therefore, I decided to put forward the City of Milan to host the IOC Session of 2019. It is the earliest possible date given that in 2017, the session will be held in Lima and in 2018, Olympic year, it will be in Pyeongchang. I think the IOC Session of 2019 in Milan is our first step to put Italy back on track after this unacceptable interruption of Rome 2024. An IOC Session which awards the Games was last held in Rome in 1966. This time we nominate Milan. I discussed this with IOC President Bach and with the General Director De Kepper and they demonstrated their willingness to support this project. I have discussed it with Lombardy Governor, Maroni and with the Mayor of the City of Milan, Sala, who said they were thrilled. As you see, there is still someone in Italy who cares about our movement and it is only with these partners we can turn the page and look ahead. However, to create an argument for future Olympic Games in Italy we must first heal the wounds caused by the ideology and demagoguery. If we are able to bring the IOC Session of 2019 to Milan, it will be the first step towards a potential new adventure.
During the press conference on 21st September at the Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill) the Mayor of Rome said NO to a number of things. Since we have to clarify things here, I would like to allow myself to prove each of her NOs to be wrong. There would not have been a "Game of Bricks", because only 2 new facilities out of a total of 36 were planned, and about the idea that the Olympics are always blank cheques: thanks to the IOC's Agenda 2020 it is not possible to make comparisons with the past. 2024 will, in fact, be the first Olympics under the new IOC rules that, in order to avoid exaggerated costs, requires restrained projects in terms of investment, while also allowing temporary facilities. In addition, not by chance, Rome's bid included a real Olympic event spread throughout the country. The Games would have actually involved the cities of Cagliari, Bari, Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Turin, Udine and Verona.
Nor is it true that also Boston, Hamburg, Dubai and Madrid said NO like us. Madrid has bid 4 times, the last 3 in a row (for the 2012, 2016, 2020 Games) coming third, second and third respectively: it has never withdrawn its candidacy, deciding instead - in light of previous defeats - not to try for the fourth consecutive time. Dubai and Tijuana/San Diego never submitted any bid. Boston has never actually been nominated by the American Olympic Committee, it withdrew its desire to apply, allowing for the American Olympic Committee to nominate Los Angeles. Finally, the situation regarding Hamburg is very different. It was a conditioned bid, by a German state law, an internal referendum. The German referendum resulted in 51.6% voting NO and thus the application was not ratified. Everything else is mystification of reality.
Allow me to also refute the concept that 70% people in Rome said 'no'. The mayor is also in possession of past and recent polls that still give the overall percentage of residents in favour compared to those against. There has not been one single poll that has provided a different result, neither from those commissioned by the Committee nor independent ones (some of which have even been surprisingly positive such as that of Condacons). It would not have been the Olympics of waste: the city of Rome would have not paid a single euro because all the costs would have been borne entirely by the IOC and the Government. 70% of the venue facilities as part of the bid already exist. 24% would have been temporary and only 6% needed to be built. Furthermore, the running of the Games would have been carried out by people chosen by the City Council. All that was needed was to read the file carefully to know all of these things. Finally, it is not true that we are still paying the debts off from the 1960 Olympics. I'm sorry but it is not so: the Commissioner in charge of the debt of the City of Rome, Silvia Scozzese sent me a report (among others submitted last April to the Chamber of Deputies, you just needed to ask to get it...) in which it is clarified that the figure refers to a series of expropriations carried out in 40 years, which is from 1950 to 1990 and those relating to Rome 1960 amount to a few hundred thousand euro (due to pending litigation).
During the Mayor's conference there was a yes, but a negative one. It was irresponsible to say yes. However, this time a no was needed: it was irresponsible to say no, and turn down the IOC money (1.7 billion) and that from the Government (about 4 billion), with which would have been created all the works the city needs (underground, rail loop, the connection Termini-Fiumicino, renovation of Stadio Flaminio, redeveloping sports halls and municipal sports facilities); it was irresponsible to say no to the 177,000 new jobs and increased wealth, 2.4% of GDP expected from 2017 to 2023.
By ending Rome's 2024 bid, it is clear and obvious that Coni and Coni Servizi will also have to restructure and reshape their commitments and their strategies both in terms of organisational development and sporting venues. From now on, our efforts will concentrate exclusively on our assets which in Rome are the Giulio Onesti Olympic Preparation Centre and the Foro Italico Park, an area envied by the world and in which Coni Servizi has invested for over a decade and will continue to do so. The area has hosted the "Internazionali di Tennis" for 80 years, in the last 10 years as part of a joint venture with Coni Servizi: for 53 years the Sette Colli di Nuoto (Seven Hills Swimming), four years in joint venture with Coni Servizi; for 36 years the Golden Gala of Athletics, which then became part of the Diamond League and in the last six years in joint venture with Coni Servizi; since 2008 a unique match, the final of the Italian Cup football named after the President of the Republic in total synergy with Coni and Coni Servizi; since 2012 the Six Nations Rugby, five years in joint venture with Coni Servizi; from 2015 the Stadio dei Marmi, has also been home to the Global Champions Tour of Horse Riding in a joint venture with Coni Servizi. All this has led in the past 10 years to a total turnover of over 260 million euro with a potential impact on the city of about one billion euro if we take as benchmark the study by Luiss and Ernst & Young for Federtennis concerning 2015.
During the past 56 years the area has hosted: an Olympic Games, a World Cup, two European Championships, 4 finals of the European Cup, the Champions League, the final of the UEFA Cup, two World Swimming Championships, one Athletics World Championships, a European Swimming Championships, a European Athletics Championships, a Beach Volleyball World Cup and a World Cup of Modern Pentathlon. None of those NOs can ever erase our history. But let's look to the future, to the restructuring of the Giulio Onesti, the renovation of Palazzetto Polivalente (Multipurpose Arena) and the construction of new facilities for Taekwondo and Rugby, the improvements to the Anti-Doping Laboratory and the Institute of Sports Medicine and Science, as well as the quantitative and qualitative improvement of guest accommodation. Within the Foro Italico Park is planned the covering of the Central court by 2019, otherwise there is the risk that ATP, by changing the access criteria to the Master 1000, might downgrade the Tournament or request another venue (with the real risk that the "Internazionali" could go elsewhere). In the summer of 2017, work starts on restructuring the Olympic Stadium, as required by UEFA for the European Championship in 2020 and sought by Federcalcio (Football Association) and CONI.
The plans also include educational aspects. I had three names in mind for the perfect governance of Rome 2024. President of the organising committee, Nerio Alessandri, not a property developer, not from Rome, a well-known and appreciated figure by the IOC. Overseeing everything, life senator and architect, Renzo Piano, and the third person was the General Enrico Cataldi, Attorney General of Sport, who was also connected with the City Council. It would have been hard to say no to these names, I would have announced them to the mayor if she had met me. Instead we never had the chance to open the dossier. Tomorrow we will present together with Premier Renzi the results of 180 detailed operations as part the project 'Sports and Suburbs', hoping that Rome has the resources to provide for important intervention works, referring to Flaminio, the Vele and the arenas. I would like to thank all the Committee, IOC members, Franco Carraro, Mario Pescante, Ivo Ferriani, Manuela Di Centa, without forgetting Bruno Grandi and Francesco Ricci Bitti, therefore the whole of CONI and anyone who has worked on this project. The IOC was more embarrassed than us. They have seen that we gave even more than our best. I also thank Luca di Montezemolo, who has worked for free and would have allowed us to get close to taking 20% of the votes. Thanks also to the testimonials. I'm sorry also for Luca Pancalli. For his world, legacy has even more importance in light of the results obtained from the cities that have hosted recent Games. Today I had to clarify. I have told you the story, I have described the present, I have outlined a new future with the challenges that lie ahead. Some will not include Rome, others will on the condition that are no more "nos". Otherwise, we will have to change the old proverb saying: "Not all roads still lead to Rome".
Luca Pancalli, Vice President of the Organising Committee and President of the Paralympic Committee, underlined Malagò's opinion. "I feel a deep bitterness, I feel robbed of hope. As a citizen, to prove that this country can really change and organise a major sporting event, avoiding the mistakes of the past. As a sportsman, for the mortification of not being able to compare our point of view and the administration's vision. Maybe we have not been good enough to communicate this but we have not even had a chance to do so".
It was left to Diana Bianchedi, General Coordinator of Rome 2024, to bring the conference to a close. "Over the past 15 days, after failing to meet with Mayor Raggi, many have asked me what I would have said. I do not think that in the end I would have touched on the subject of the dossier, instead I would have simply asked: why all this rush? It is not easy trying to be clear headed, we all knew what would happen today. But athletes try to fight to the bitter end. I believed in this and I believe that today, despite the climate that reigns, we have demonstrated something in terms of change. We have sent the second part of the dossier because after phase 1 we worked at a tight pace to produce a serious and credible piece of work. And we have delivered it just to demonstrate the seriousness of the work and the depth of analysis carried out. I think it was consistent with the work done, to show that we have never hidden anything. And we leave to the other candidates an important base."