June 09, 2014

ROME (AP) IOC President Thomas Bach offered his encouragement Monday to a possible Rome bid for the 2024 Olympics, saying the Italian capital would be a ''very strong contender.''

Rome, which hosted the 1960 Games, pulled out of the bidding for the 2020 Olympics when the Italian government refused to provide financial backing. No decision has yet been made on whether to bid for 2024.

''It's not a secret, a Rome bid for the 2024 Games would be very strong,'' Bach told a Rome conference celebrating the centenary of the Italian Olympic Committee. ''Italy is a country with a great passion for sport and great athletes and is efficient in hospitality and organization.

''It would be a very strong bid which would have the sympathy of a lot of people, not only in the Olympic family but inside the whole movement.''

A Rome bid could face competition from Paris; Doha, Qatar; Istanbul, Turkey, and cities from the United States, Germany and South Africa.

Bids will be submitted to the IOC next year, and the host city will be selected in 2017.

Bach also said the International Olympic Committee is looking at shaking up the bid procedure in the future.

''We need to change philosophy,'' he said. ''In the past we needed to build many stadiums with huge capacity and with so many technical procedures to respect.

''At the time maybe it was right but it doesn't respond to today's demands. We have to think about how the games could enter into the social fabric of the host country. We have to be more flexible, starting with the program, and understand how to best manage costs.''

Changes to the bid process are among the issues being considered as part of Bach's ''Agenda 2020,'' his blueprint for the future of the Olympic movement. Recommendations will be put to a vote at a special IOC meeting in Monaco in December.

Bach also sought to assuage concerns over Rio de Janeiro's delayed preparations for the 2016 Olympics, saying ''great progress'' has been made recently.

IOC members have openly said the games are at risk and preparations are the ''worst'' in recent memory. The IOC has sent special advisers to Rio to help organizers get on track.

''There is no time to lose but we are confident because everyone is working at close quarters and with a great collaborative spirit,'' Bach said. ''I am certain that the Rio Olympics will be full of typical Brazilian enthusiasm. We have seen great progress in the last few months, in particularly in the city of Rio de Janeiro.''

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