Ex Ferrari chief Montezemolo likely to lead Rome 2024 bid
ROME (AP) Former Ferrari president Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo is gaining support to become the head of Rome's bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.
''It's not my job to (choose) but I have to say he's perfect, because of his experience in international sports and business,'' longtime International Olympic Committee member Mario Pescante told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago is expected to announce Montezemolo's appointment sometime in the next two weeks, according to the ANSA news agency and La Repubblica newspaper.
The 67-year-old Montezemolo stepped down from Ferrari in October after 23 years as president of the Italian car manufacturer, during which the automaker's Formula One team had some of its most successful seasons.
Montezemolo also headed the organizing committee for the 1990 World Cup in Italy. He was named Alitalia's chairman in November.
Montezemolo ''has connections all over the place and he's very efficient,'' Pescante said. ''He's the right choice. He possesses most of the characteristics needed for the job.''
Italy's former foreign minister Franco Frattini had also been mentioned for the job since Italian Premier Matteo Renzi announced Rome's cost-conscious bid last month, two years after Italy scrapped plans to bid for the 2020 Games because of financial concerns.
Malago and Renzi met with Bach at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, and Italian media reported that Malago informed Bach that he had chosen Montezemolo.
''During the meeting, the clear and strong commitment of Prime Minster Renzi became even more obvious,'' Bach said. ''These words also underline his passion and in-depth knowledge of the Olympic Games and of Olympic Agenda 2020, including the opportunities it offers for bidding cities.''
Said Pescante: ''It seems that the premier left a good impression on Bach.''
The 76-year-old Pescante was an IOC vice president from 2009-12. He has also been president of the European Olympic Committees and CONI, and was the government supervisor for the 2006 Winter Games in Turin.
Rome and Boston are the only declared bidders so far for the 2024 Games. Germany will decide between Berlin and Hamburg as its candidate. Paris is also weighing a bid. Other possible contenders are South Africa; Doha, Qatar; Budapest, Hungary; and Baku, Azerbaijan.
The IOC will select the host city in 2017.
When Renzi announced Rome's 2024 bid, he said it would include venues up and down Italy, taking advantage of Bach's newly approved reforms allowing events to be held outside the host city.
Possible venues from Sardinia to Venice to Naples to Vatican City have been mentioned, but Pescante said Rome needs to reign in those plans.
''There are new rules but we shouldn't exaggerate. We need to constrict ourselves to just a few cities,'' Pescante said. ''Two, three or four cities.''
Pescante briefly led Rome's bid to host the 2020 Games, until then-premier Mario Monti withdrew government support in 2012.
''It's an extraordinary turnaround,'' Pescante said, comparing Monti's withdrawal to Renzi's enthusiastic support. ''This country needs to look into the future with a bit more optimism instead of closing itself off, and I think that's Renzi's general outlook.''
Rome is considering a budget of 6 billion euros (about $7 billion) - $2 billion of which would be covered by the IOC - or roughly half of what London spent in 2012. The bid committee's budget will be 5 to 10 million euros ($6-$12 million).
Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf