New Rome mayor maintains opposition to 2024 Olympic bid

ROME (AP) Rome's bid for the 2024 Olympics is in serious trouble with the city's new mayor maintaining her opposition to the candidacy.

''My position isn't changing. Right now it's really not a priority for Romans,'' Virginia Raggi told Euronews on Wednesday in her first interview since being elected.

Raggi pointed to spiraling deficits in Olympic cities.

''Already with 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in debt, Rome can't permit taking on more debt to make cathedrals in the desert,'' she said.

Representing the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, Raggi won a runoff Sunday to become Rome's first female mayor and, at age 37, also its youngest.

Raggi said her opposition to the bid has nothing to do with fears of corruption or Mafia involvement.

''My `no' is very clear. It starts with the numbers,'' she said. ''Historical data from the Olympics - discounting eventual episodes of corruption - shows us that the costs are not sustainable. Other cities have already withdrawn their bids for these reasons. And I don't think they were thinking about corruption or Mafia infiltrations.''

Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago acknowledged Tuesday that IOC rules for candidates require undivided support from the city, the Olympic committee and the government, and that if one of those pulls out, ''we would be too weak.''

Raggi said during her campaign that she wants to focus on ''everyday items before extraordinary ones.''

However, previous Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino formally submitted Rome's 2024 bid to the International Olympic Committee last year after a city council vote showed overwhelming support.

The other 2024 bidders are Budapest, Hungary; Los Angeles; and Paris. The IOC will select the host city in September 2017.

If Raggi continues to oppose the bid, the candidacy could be decided in a referendum.

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 plans to bid for the 2020 Games because of fiscal conditions.

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Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf

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