ROME — Italian medalists from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics wrote to Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi on Thursday pleading with her not to drop the capital’s bid for the 2024 Games, saying it would be a mistake to “close the door on a unique opportunity.”
Raggi has voiced opposition to the bid but has not formally rejected it. She is scheduled to meet with Italian Olympic Committee President Giovanni Malago this month.
Rome, one of four candidates in the international bid race, is trying to bring the Summer Olympics back to Italy for the first time since the city hosted the 1960 Games.
“Those of us who had the opportunity to experience the Rio Games and to win a medal, putting Italy’s name on the podium, are convinced that bringing the games back to our country and our capital would give future generations the necessary optimism to believe in a better future,” said the letter, signed by the 68 athletes. “You can give a decisive push to our dreams and a reason for enthusiasm for all Italian sport.”
Raggi, who represents the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, became Rome’s first female mayor in June and, at age 37, also its youngest.
She maintained throughout her campaign that she wants to focus on “everyday items before extraordinary ones” and has pointed to the high costs faced by Olympic cities.
IOC guidelines for bid cities require undivided support from the city, the national Olympic committee and the government.
“We ask you not to leave out your support for Rome’s bid,” the letter said. “We ask you with the passion we have shown recently in our competitions and which allowed us to excel. We appeal to your sensitivity as a mayor and your love as a mother.
“If we play together no match can ever be lost. United we can win. You showed that by becoming mayor. We showed that by winning in Rio. We are certain you share our sentiments. Don’t close the door on a unique opportunity.”
Previous Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino formally submitted the bid to the International Olympic Committee last year after a city council vote showed overwhelming support.
The other 2024 bidders are Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest, Hungary. The IOC will select the host city in September 2017.
If the bid is rejected, it would mark Rome’s second withdrawal in four years after then-premier Mario Monti in 2012 stopped Rome’s bid for the 2020 Games for financial reasons.
“Rome is our capital and we are all by your side in the battle you are leading to get it back to ancient glories,” the athletes said in their letter to Raggi. “We would be happy to be able to compete now, together, to achieve a dream, a hope: Rome 2024. A sporting embrace.”