Rome and Paris unveiled their competing bids to secure the 2024 summer Olympic Games on Wednesday, with both European capitals promising to draw on their cultural legacies and iconic sites in their multi-billion euro plans.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is due to elect the host city in September 2017. Budapest and Los Angeles are also bidding for the right to stage the world's biggest sporting event.
IOC President Thomas Bach said the committee was delighted to have four "extremely strong" candidatures and predicted a "fascinating competition" between the cities.
Rome put forward a 5.3-billion-euro (5.9-billion-dollar) plan, as Olympic Committee chair Giovanni Malago said the cycling, marathon, beach volleyball and archery competitions would be staged near the Colosseum, in the Circus Maximus or other ancient Rome sites.
Football matches would be played in 10 stadiums around the country, and Cagliari, in Sardinia, would host sailing events, Malago said, adding that Italian film composer Ennio Morricone would compose a Rome 2024 hymn.
"We want to have the biggest sporting party ever organized," organizing committee chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said at a launch event alongside Malago. He listed four buzzwords: "sport, ethics, competition, passion".
Paris released its plan under the slogan "The force of a dream," including venues like the Eiffel Tower, Champes-Elysees and Grand Palais among its planned venues. Sailing would be hosted in the southern port city of Marseille.
"Our ambition with Paris 2024 is to make the choice of sports and Olympics a project of society," said Tony Estanguet, an Olympic gold medalist and co-president of the French Olympics Committee athletes commission.
Paris last hosted a summer Olympics in 1924, and so a successful bid would see the Games returning to the city of lights for their 100-year anniversary in France.
French organizers said they planned to spend 3 billion euros on competition and non-competition venues, making use of 26 existing sporting venues for the games, 8 temporary venues and two new ones. They estimated that up to 250,000 jobs could be created by the games.
The budget for the Rome games foresaw 2.1 billion euros for permanent structures and 3.2 billion euros for temporary ones, running costs and management. Organizers said 30 per cent of facilities needed to be built from scratch and promised the creation of 177,000 jobs.
Rome last hosted the summer Olympics in 1960 and bid backers hope to recreate some of the magic from that "Dolce Vita" era.
But there is also widespread scepticism over the risk of corruption and overspending - a recurring problem with public works in Italy. A campaign, backed by smaller left-wing and anti-establishment parties, has called for a referendum on Rome's bid.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles 2024 unveiled its official logo and slogan, Follow the Sun, for its bid to bring the Olympics to the United States for the first time in 28 years.
Organizers said the figure of the logo, illuminated by rays of the sun, is a symbol of athletes reaching for their dreams, the original Spanish name for Los Angeles "the City of Angels."
Last year the German city of Hamburg withdrew from the 2024 race after residents voted against staging the Games.
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