Italian official: Rome 2020 bid should get moving

Published Nov. 23, 2010 7:51 p.m. ET

A senior Italian IOC member questioned Tuesday whether the country is in a strong enough economic position to proceed with a bid for the 2020 Olympics.

''I get the feeling that in Italy people like the idea of the Olympics but many people pose two reservations,'' Franco Carraro said in an interview with The Associated Press. ''First, in this tough economic moment can we permit ourselves to organize an Olympics? The second is, if we organize the Olympics are we going to do so transparently or is it going to be the chance for some cheat to take advantage?''

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) endorsed Rome as a 2020 candidate in May.

''I know that my IOC colleagues heard the news then but they haven't heard anything since. ... Over these six months the world has changed, and especially the economic climate in Europe,'' said Carraro, alluding to the financial crisis in Greece and Ireland.

Official bids for 2020 will be accepted by the International Olympic Committee after its meeting in South Africa next July. The host city will be selected in 2013.

Other potential bids could come from Tokyo, Madrid, Istanbul, Dubai, Doha, and either Durban or Cape Town, South Africa.

For months, Rome officials have mentioned Gianni Letta, premier Silvio Berlusconi's right-hand man, as a candidate to lead the bid. With the government facing a do-or-die no-confidence vote in parliament on Dec. 14, nobody is certain who the leader might be.


Still, CONI president Giovanni Petrucci insisted on Monday that there were no problems for the bid.

''It's useless for us to continue hurting ourselves,'' Petrucci told RAI state radio. ''Right now there are other priorities in the country and nothing will happen if a month goes by. The situation is under control. We need everyone's help, from the IOC members and the city of Rome.''

Likewise, Italy's Defense Minister Ignazio La Russsa noted the country is going through a period of ''instability'', adding that ''the Olympics remain a priority, but not the top priority.''

But the 70-year-old Carraro, who has held just about every key leadership position in Italian sports and was also Rome mayor from 1989-93, argues that the bid needs to organize itself precisely so it can operate ''independent of political controversy.''

''Our opponents are going to point to all the controversies in our country,'' Carraro said, recalling how Rome lost to Athens in a close vote for the 2004 Games. ''We've got to be very precise and factual.''

In May, CONI proposed a bid that includes 70 percent existing venues that centered on the Foro Italico, which was the hub of the 1960 Games.

''The Rome candidacy definitely costs less than other cities,'' Carraro said. ''Starting from a solid basis is a big advantage, but you need to explain what it costs, you have to explain it in numbers.''

Carraro is also the chairman of FIFA's internal audit committee, and has been an interested observer of the corruption cases involving the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts.

The IOC full session elections are far more comprehensive and transparent than FIFA's executive committee vote, according to Carraro.

''I think it works better,'' Carraro said. ''FIFA will definitely improve its procedure.''