By Duncan Mackay
February 19 - Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has been asked to lead Rome's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, the head of Italy's Games Committee (CONI) has revealed.
Montezemolo, who organised the successful FIFA World Cup in Italy in 1990, and has been chairman of Fiat, is expected to give a response at the start of next week and would work alongside Ernesto Albanaese, who has been nominated to be the bid's chief executive.
But Gianni Petrucci, the President of CONI, has already backed him to be a major asset for Rome if he accepts the offer.
"Luca di Montezemolo is the right man, one of the most famous Italians in the world," he said.
"With him our chances would increase.
"I'm in complete agreement with the Government and the Rome Council.
"I really hope the Ferrari president's reply is positive."
The 63-year-old from Bologna, who is worth an estimated $400 million, has been mulling entering politics but said he was committed to Ferrari at the Formula One team's season launch last month.
Montezemolo had been the original choice of Italy's Undersecretary of State Gianni Letta but then Nerio Alessandri, the founder and chief executive of London 2012 sponsor Technogym, was approached.
He turned down the role to concentrate on his own business and because of tensions between him and CONI and Montezemolo has again emerged as the leading contender.
Rome Mayor's Gianni Alemanno is keen to find a leader so that they can begin promoting the bid, although a decision is not due until September 7, 2013, at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Buenos Aires.
"No more postponements," he said.
"On Wednesday 23 February the Mayor will officially announce the name of the President."
The appointment of Albanaese, a former high-ranking official with CONI and now the managing director of Atahotels, as chief executive appears to be a formality after he was backed by all three stakeholders involved in the bid.
Italian officials are also considering establishing an advisory panel to oversee the bid and ensure transparency.