"Today the game is over." Olympic Committee chief Giovanni Malago (pictured above) told the AP news agency on Tuesday, after pulling the plug on the candidacy.
"It's a big wound for us. I hope they realize how bad an impression we've made," he added, referring to the Rome's city council that had voted against the initiative.
Italy's bid to host the 2024 Games in Rome was launched before the current mayor, Virginia Raggi, took office earlier this year. Raggi, from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, already dismissed the push as "irresponsible" for a city struggling with lack of money and weak public services.
"Olympic Games are a dream which at a certain point turn into a nightmare," she said.
Malago, in turn, praised the project as a chance to update the city's infrastructure and create 177,000 jobs. The national government and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also endorsed the bid.
However, the opposition from the Rome's city council eventually forced Malago to pull out of the race.
"This is the saddest day of my presidency," visibly upset Malago told reporters on Tuesday.
"Do you realize what fools we have made of ourselves at an international level?"
Three cities still in the race
Theoretically, Italy might revive its initiative if the there was a new majority in Rome's city council, but the sports official did not hold out much hope.
The cancellation from Rome comes after Boston also dropped out and citizens of Hamburg voted to withdraw the bid late last year. The International Olympic Committee still has to choose between Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest for 2024.
The 2020 games will be held in Japan's capital, Tokyo. Some city officials warn that the costs could exceed $30 billion (27.1 billion euro) putting the final price tag at more than four times of the original estimate.
dj/kl (AP, Reuters, dpa)