Rome mayor wants Olympic medal ceremonies at Colosseum

ROME (AP) Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino proposed Friday that medal ceremonies be held at the Colosseum if the Italian capital wins the bid to host the 2024 Olympics.

Marino was meeting with IOC President Thomas Bach and bid committee officials, as well as Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Giovanni Malago, president of Italy's national Olympic committee.

''I have a dream: if we manage to have the Olympics in Rome, I would like the medal ceremonies to take place at the Colosseum,'' Marino said. ''We want to rebuild the arena of the Colosseum so that the athletes can be lifted in like the gladiators in the Roman times.''

Bach liked the idea, but joked ''as long as the lions don't then arrive.''

The bid committee is also looking into the possibility of having the finals of various sports at other historic locations, including the Circus Maximus.

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.

Bach believes Rome now has a good chance of bringing the games back to the Italian capital for the first time since 1960 - the former fencer's first Olympics.

''Italy's candidacy is a strong one because of its history, that of the country and its sporting one,'' Bach said. ''I wish you good luck with the bid, congratulations on your good work, continue like this.

''I see that there is a lot of unity behind Rome's bid. From the president Mattarella to CONI to the mayor Marino. This is very important and gives strength to the Italian project.''

The IOC will select the host city in 2017.

Hamburg, Germany, and Boston are the only declared candidates. Paris and Budapest, Hungary, are expected to enter the race soon.

''In its candidacy, Roma is the only one to bring together art and culture, sporting tradition, innovation and technology,'' said bid leader and former Ferrari president Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo. ''That is one of our strong points, together with a powerful team spirit.

''Bach himself made us understand that occasions have been lost in the past because of a lack of unity in the world of sport and the country in general. It's a great opportunity for Italy, something we mustn't lose.''

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