Italy's Olympic Committee has officially withdrawn its bid to stage the 2024 Games in Rome after the city council voted to oppose the candidacy, committee chief Giovanni Malago said on Tuesday.
Clearly upset by having to pull the plug on his ambitious project, Malago said Italy had not only been made to look stupid by backing out at this late stage, but had also missed out on a golden opportunity to attract badly needed foreign investment.
"Today I wrote a letter to the International Olympic Committee in which we have broken off our candidature for the Olympic Games in 2024," Malago told a news conference.
"Do you realize what fools we have made of ourselves at an international level?"
Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi announced last month that she would not back Malago's drive to put on the sporting extravaganza, saying that staging the Games would bury the Italian capital under piles of debt and tonnes of cement.
Raggi's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which took control of Rome in June following a landslide victory in local elections, had repeatedly flagged its opposition to hosting the Games, arguing that the city had more pressing concerns.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's government had supported the bid and the broader Rome municipality, which includes an array of small town councils, had indicated it was ready to put its name to the project in an attempt to bypass the 5-Star veto.
But Malago, who met Olympic chiefs last week, made clear he was not going to forge ahead without the full backing of the main city council.