ROME — The marathon route winding through St. Peter’s Square and finishing under the Arch of Constantine in front of the Colosseum. A medals plaza set up inside the Baths of Caracalla. Beach volleyball played at the Circus Maximus.
Since Italian Premier Matteo Renzi announced Rome’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics last year, the details have been something of a mystery.
But, in a wide-ranging interview, bid chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo revealed a list of “iconic venues” that will take full advantage of Rome’s historic settings and Italy’s television-friendly backdrops.
Among other plans, cyclists could finish the road race with a sprint on the majestic Via dei Fori Imperiali and sailing would take place off Sardinia, Sicily or the Amalfi coast. The marathon route would run alongside Rome’s synagogue and mosque to promote interfaith peace.
“With television today, to have the possibility to put together the sport, the emotion, with the [surroundings] is fantastic,” said Montezemolo, the former Ferrari president and current Alitalia chairman.
The center of the bid project is the Foro Italico, which features the Stadio Olimpico used for the 1960 Games with an adjacent aquatics venue.
“We can do the opening ceremony and the athletics tonight,” Montezemolo said. “[We’re] ready. Swimming tonight. … Seventy percent of the venues are existing.”
Another main area will be at Tor Vergata, a university zone on Rome’s ring road that would be used for the athletes’ village, basketball, volleyball and perhaps the velodrome.
Gymnastics, boxing, fencing, judo, taekwondo and some other sports would be held at the Fiera convention center near the main airport.
With Tor Vergata currently in a state of abandonment, Montezemolo wants the athletes’ village to be turned into university housing and a hospital after the games.
“I don’t want to present a town that puts in the window only history and [the] past,” he said.
A drawback might be the distance — 20 miles — from Tor Vergata to the Foro Italico. That could impact athletics and swimming competitors who often return to the village between morning heats and evening finals.
Rome would like to host the games in August when the locals go on vacation so traffic might not be as much of a problem as usual.
“It could be 40 minutes without traffic,” Montezemolo said.
Plans call for a games budget of $6.7 billion, or roughly half of what London spent in 2012. The bid budget is $11 million — a fraction of the $65 million that rival Paris is spending. Los Angeles — the other main contender — raised $35 million in a single week for its bid campaign.
The other bidders are Hamburg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary. The IOC will select the host city in 2017.
Rome hasn’t launched a website yet — although that’s in the works.
Having witnessed Boston’s withdrawal from the race after a public backlash, Rome is being extra careful.
“I prefer to announce when things are confirmed,” Montezemolo said. “It’s very easy to say we will do soccer in the Colosseum and maybe swimming in the Tiber. But that is not realistic.”
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.