By Duncan Mackay

March 7 - Italy will decide in May whether to choose Rome or Venice as its candidate to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

Both cities have submitted proposals to the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI).

Rome, which hosted the Olympics in 1960, is considered to be the frontrunner.

The Italian capital's last bid to host the Olympics ended in disappointment when they were beaten in 1997 by Athens for the 2004 Games despite being the favourites.

Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno claimed that the two cities were supportive of each other's bids.

He said: "We were keen to make our bids together to show that Rome and Venice are competing on loyal terms, in, I dare say, an Olympic spirit."

Rome intends to revamp existing structures - including its 1960 Olympics Stadium and facilities used to host the 2009 World Swimming Championships - while also building new ones.

Rome's initial budget is estimated at €42 million (£46.6 million) a figure that in the event of a successful bid would top €1.9 billion (£1.7 billion), Alemanno said.

Doubts exsist over Venice's proposed bid due to the lack of space to build new facilities.

Venice Mayor Massimo Cacciari claimed that this obstacle can be overcome.

He said: "The area that would host the Games is much more extended."

The plan would see facilities stretch beyond the city to encompass mainland areas including those near the Marco Polo international airport and those surrounding the cities of Treviso and Padua.

Potential bids from Bari and Palermo have already been ruled out.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is due to pick the host city at its Session in Buenos Aires in 2013.

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