Former Ferrari president Luca Montezemolo to lead Rome's bid to host 2024 Olympics

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."

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

"He's perfect, because of his experience in international sports and business," longtime International Olympic Committee member Mario Pescante told The Associated Press last month.

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

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.

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.

Montezemolo joined Ferrari in 1973, brought in by founding father Enzo Ferrari as his assistant. After a brief period away from the company, he returned as president in 1991 and the team won six F1 drivers' titles — five by Michael Schumacher, one by Kimi Raikkonen — and eight constructors' titles while he was in charge.

Montezemolo left Ferrari amid a recent decline by the F1 team, and at about the same time as the stock listing of merged parent company Fiat-Chrysler. His severance package was nearly 27 million euros (more than $30 million).

Malago said Montezemolo would not be paid for his work on the bid committee.

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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