FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2014 file photo, Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo smiles as he attends a press conference at the Ferrari headquarters in Maranello, Italy. Former Ferrari president Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo will lead Rome's bid for the 2024 Olympics.
Antonio Calanni, file
February 10, 2015

ROME (AP) Former Ferrari president Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo will lead Rome's bid for the 2024 Olympics, providing the candidacy with a high-profile figure boasting extensive experience in international sports and business.

Montezemolo stepped down from Ferrari in October after 23 years as president of the Italian car manufacturer, during which its Formula One team had some its most successful years.

''I don't think anyone in Italy is as popular as Luca is abroad,'' Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago said Tuesday while announcing Montezemolo's appointment. ''That says it all.

''No other name was taken into consideration,'' Malago added.

The 67-year-old Montezemolo, who did not attend the announcement, also led the local organizing committee for the 1990 World Cup in Italy. He was named Alitalia's chairman in November.

''I'm going to apply myself with great enthusiasm. This is a challenge that will be won with innovation and creativity,'' Montezemolo told the ANSA news agency.

Luca Pancalli, the president of Italy's Paralympic committee, was named vice president of the bid committee.

The opposition party 5-Star Movement, led by comic Beppe Grillo, was less enthusiastic, citing debts and abandoned construction projects from the 1990 World Cup. The party noted that nearly 35 years will have passed between the 1990 event and the 2024 Games.

''The sports culture in Italy has always been and is still made up of great projects and great disasters,'' the party said in a statement. ''So Montezemolo will be the perfect Olympic flag bearer.''

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi announced Rome's cost-conscious Olympic bid in December, two years after Italy scrapped plans to bid for the 2020 Games because of financial concerns.

Rome - which hosted the 1960 Olympics - and Boston are the only declared bidders so far for 2024. 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.

Montezemolo and Malago will travel to Lausanne, Switzerland, on Wednesday to meet with IOC President Thomas Bach. They intend to ask for clarifications on Bach's recently approved reform agenda, which is intended to make Olympic bidding and hosting less expensive and more flexible.

''We want to understand what we can do, what we must do, and what we should do,'' Malago said.

The Rome bid is expected to include many of the venues used for the 1960 Games - notably the Foro Italico complex that includes the athletics and football stadium, plus swimming, diving and tennis facilities. It could also involve venues in other Italian cities, or even the Vatican.

Meanwhile, Rome Mayor Ignazio Mario has expressed concern over debts and failed construction projects from the 1960 Games, the 1990 World Cup and the 2009 swimming world championships in the capital.

Mario said the city is still paying off debts from the 1960 Games and cited a failed rail project from the World Cup. Marino also pointed to a half-completed sports arena and swimming pool complex designed by architect Santiago Calatrava on the outskirts of the city for the 2009 worlds that cost an estimated 400 million euros ($450 million).

''I want an opposite model, a city that invests for the good of its citizens and an Olympics that helps improve the quality of life, transportation and urban planning,'' Marino said Sunday.

Rome is considering a budget of 6 billion euros (about $7 billion) - $2 billion of which would be covered by the IOC. The bid committee's budget will be 5 to 10 million euros ($6-$12 million).

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Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf

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