AP Interview: Rome 2020 bid leader moving quickly

AP Interview: Rome 2020 bid leader moving quickly

Published Apr. 14, 2011 7:44 p.m. ET

Rome is quickly moving forward with its candidacy for the 2020 Olympics, with bid leader Mario Pescante planning to submit a motion in parliament to secure political support for the $57 million campaign.

Rome is the only city so far to be nominated by its national Olympic committee to bid for 2020. The host city will be chosen by the International Olympic Committee in 2013.

''This is essential,'' Pescante told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. ''If we have a parliamentary motion in place, that's something you can't question. It's bipartisan.''

South Africa is expected to submit a bid from Durban. Other potential contenders include Madrid, Tokyo, Istanbul, Doha and Dubai.


Pescante's announcement comes two days after Premier Silvio Berlusconi indicated he likely won't seek re-election when his term ends in 2013. Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno and Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Petrucci also could be out of office by the time of the 2013 vote.

Pescante said as soon as fellow IOC member Franco Carraro's economic viability commission provides a positive report, he will present the motion in parliament, possibly by June.

''I already have a parliamentary motion ready,'' he said.

Pescante, who is an IOC vice president, knows political cohesiveness is important for a successful bid.

''In the first phase of the bidding process, there is a questionnaire with a key section regarding political consensus,'' he said.

Pescante also recalled what he learned as a last-minute supervisor to ease political tensions before the 2006 Turin Games: ''If you don't have unanimous support, you can't do anything.''

Rome is planning a $57.6 million budget for its bid, with $8.6 million secured so far. Pescante said a series of sponsorship deals with up to 10 national companies could bring in another $28.8 million.

If Rome is awarded the games, Pescante said the Olympic budget would be $13 billion.

Rome's bid is centered around mostly existing venues used for the 1960 Games, notably the expansive Foro Italico complex that hosts the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium, a newly built 10,500-seat tennis stadium and outdoor pools used for the 2009 swimming world championships.

Last month, Pescante said he was told by Japan's ambassador in Rome that Japan had decided not to pursue a 2020 bid following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country.

The Japanese Olympic Committee said on March 23 that it was still considering a bid.

''Let's just say that I understood him poorly,'' Pescante said Thursday. ''But I also said that if Tokyo were to win, the Olympic world would be pleased. If I had to choose one city to beat Rome, I would choose Tokyo.''

The vote for the 2018 Winter Games will be in July. The candidates are Annecy, France; Munich; and Pyeongchang, South Korea. That vote could affect the 2020 Olympics, with the IOC perhaps reluctant to award two consecutive games to one continent.

But Pescante noted that Turin followed the 2004 Athens Games and the 2012 London Olympics will be followed by the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia - all European hosts.

''I will consult with (the Italian) winter sports federation before voting and choose the bid with the best technical setup for our athletes,'' said Pescante of the 2018 candidates. ''(Munich's Garmisch-Partenkirchen) is known for its winter sports. When you say Garmisch, you think winter sports.''