Giovanni Malago claims Italy would risk losing its reputation by withdrawing from the 2024 race ©Getty Images

Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) President Giovanni Malago has claimed the country risks a loss of credibility and "looking like a fool" if Rome abandons its bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

His comments come at the beginning of a week in which Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi is expected to announce whether she will endorse or oppose the bid following weeks of speculation either way.

Raggi repeatedly opposed the bid during her successful Mayoral election campaign earlier this year, and Beppe Grillo, the leader of the Five Star Party Raggi represents, has reiterated these calls in recent days.

But Malago, one of the main ambassadors for the bid alongside Rome 2024 organisers, claims to still be hopeful while believing a withdrawal would be damaging for Italy's reputation.

"I am of an optimistic nature," he told Domenica Sportiva. 

"We have met with the administration and we shook hands.

"There is an agreement and we ask that there be respect for a journey that began three years ago. 

"It risks [us looking like] a monstrous fool internationally and this concerns Italy's credibility. 

"The rejection of the nomination would be a defeat for the world of sport.

"It would mean that politics intervened [in] disavowing the green light of the policy and decisions of the sports world."

Bid supporters, including Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, are still lobbying hard to preserve the bid.

Virginia Raggi is set to formally announce her decision on whether to press ahead with Rome 2024 this week ©Getty Images
Virginia Raggi is set to formally announce her decision on whether to press ahead with Rome 2024 this week ©Getty Images

It is still thought more likely a decision will be made to withdraw, however, particularly due to Raggi's previous comments and the pressure she is under from those within her party.

No date for a press conference has yet been given, although the ANSA news agency predicts it will take place before the Five Star Movement begins a convention in Palermo this weekend.

A decision was made to delay an announcement expected for an earlier this month in order to avoid overshadowing the Paralympic Games which closed in Rio de Janeiro yesterday.

If Rome's bid is ultimately cancelled, it will mark the second occasion on which the city has filed an application to host the Games only to withdraw the bid.

In 2012, Italy's then Prime Minister Mario Monti called an end to a bid for the 2020 Games, citing uncertain costs and unknown financial benefit at the peak of the financial crisis, a day before the deadline for bidding cities to submit their application files.

Malago has also insisted once again that continuing the bid will benefit the Italian people rather than harm them.

"Now, if anything, it is just the verdict for the Italian candidacy," he added.

"But here there is a bit of confusion because we are not deciding whether or not to organise the Olympic Games, but to continue to move forward to something decided three years ago.

"There is no charge for Roman citizens, because the Olympic Games are no longer about gigantism.

"Polls are very clear, they are totally in favour of the nomination, especially among young people between 18 and 25 years."

insidethegames has contacted Rome 2024 for an update on negotiations.

Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris are also bidding, with the International Olympic Committee poised to elect a host at their Session in Lima next year.