Rome (Reuters): Italy withdrew from the race to host the 2023 rugby World Cup on Wednesday, one week after Rome’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games was effectively scuppered when the city government withdrew its support.
The Italian rugby federation (FIR) said the two bids had been closely linked and it was not possible to carry on. The announcement leaves France, South Africa and Ireland as the three countries bidding to host the tournament.
“As it has always been closely connected to that of the Olympic Games of Rome 2024, the candidacy for the 10th edition of the Rugby World Cup has no more conditions to continue,” said FIR president Alfredo Gavazzi.
“We remain convinced of the great potential of the Italian bid, which would bring undoubted benefits and necessary improvements in Italian stadiums,” he added.
“We are aware that we have missed a fantastic opportunity to further embed our values and our sport in the Italian social fabric, but we have to recognise that as of now there are no grounds to continue this journey.”
Rome’s new mayor, Virginia Raggi, pulled the plug on the city’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics, saying staging the summer games would bury the Italian capital under mountains of debt and tonnes of cement.
Raggi, whose anti-establishment Five-Star Movement took power for the first time in Rome after a landslide victory in local elections in June, said it would be irresponsible to support the candidacy.
Rugby’s governing body said that “while it is disappointing that the FIR feels unable to proceed, World Rugby fully understands the decision and hopes to see Italy join the process for future Rugby World Cup hosting.”
Italy also made failed bids to host the Euro 2012 and Euro 2016 soccer tournaments.