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L.A.'s competition for 2024 Olympics narrows as Rome suspends its bid

L.A.'s competition for 2024 Olympics narrows as Rome suspends its bid
Italian Olympic Committee President Giovanni Malago at a news conference in Rome on Oct. 11. (Alessandra Tarantino / Associated Press)

Now that there is one less bidder for the 2024 Summer Olympics — with Rome suspending its campaign on Tuesday morning — it remains to be seen how a diminished field will affect Los Angeles' chances.

The Italian capital bowed out amid persistent opposition from the local government, with bid officials expressing only a slight hope that their campaign might be revived.

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"The bid committee is officially liquidated as of today," Giovanni Malago, president of the Italian Olympic Committee, told reporters. "It's a big wound for us. I hope they realize how bad an impression we've made."

Rome's withdrawal leaves Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest in the race for the 2024 Games.

On one hand, that means less competition. On the other, the International Olympic Committee has always been a primarily Western European organization, and support might now coalesce behind Paris, at least in the early rounds of voting.

Los Angeles and Paris have long been considered the front-runners in the competition that runs through September 2017.

"On behalf of all of us at LA 2024, we are disappointed in today's news as we have enjoyed our interactions with the leaders of the Rome 2024 bid," Casey Wasserman, chairman of L.A.'s bid committee, said in a statement. "We regard Team Rome as great professionals and true Olympic enthusiasts who have always carried the Olympic values of friendship, respect and excellence in their bid."

Tuesday's announcement represents another blow to the IOC, which has seen numerous candidate cities withdraw of late.

Voters in Hamburg, Germany, rejected their city's 2024 campaign in a referendum and Boston dropped out of the race last summer, paving the way for Los Angeles to step in as the U.S. candidate.

Previously, four cities withdrew from competition for the 2022 Winter Games.

The IOC recently passed a series of so-called Agenda 2020 reforms that, among other things, sought to make bidding and hosting the Games less costly. The changes were meant to attract more candidates.

IOC officials offered no immediate response to Rome's announcement.

The Italian bid began to lose steam last summer when Virginia Raggi of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement was elected mayor of Rome on a platform that included opposition to hosting the Games.

Echoing the concerns of other cities, Raggi saw the mega-sporting event as too costly and too big a financial risk. Rome's city council subsequently voted to withdraw its support, too.

Rome 2024 officials initially vowed to persist but said they sent a letter to the IOC suspending their bid on Tuesday.

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UPDATES:

10 a.m.: This article was updated with staff reporting.

This article was originally published at 4:25 a.m.

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