50th Anniversary of Rome Olympics

(ATR) Rome today commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1960 Olympics with a series of events, including the symbolic re-lighting of the Olympic flame ...

(ATR) Rome commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1960 Olympics with events today that include the symbolic re-lighting of the Olympic flame – and carry hopes of hosting the 2020 Games.

The main anniversary event takes place in Michelangelo's landmark Piazza del Campidoglio.

The 1960 Olympics opened Aug. 25 and ran until Sep. 11.

Athletes including former boxer Nino Benvenuti, who won the welterweight division in 1960, and U.S. pole vault champion Donald Bragg, are attending the ceremony.

Giancarlo Peris, the last torchbearer in 1960 will re-light the flame, accompanied by five children. A retired school teacher, now aged 67, Peris won a regional school race that offered the prize of being the final torchbearer at the Games.

"Carrying the Olympic torch for two to three minutes along a 360m distance and up 92 steps was an unforgettable experience," Peris recalled at the time of the Beijing 2008 Games.

"August 25, 1960, became the most unforgettable day of my life… I held the torch high, ran up to the cauldron platform and lit the cauldron of the Olympic Games."

Other officials from the city of Rome and the Italian Olympic committee are taking part in the ceremony, which also features the screening of a movie called "La grande Olimpiade" (The Great Olympiad). This is the documentary commissioned by the 1960 Games organizing committee that won a nomination at the Oscars in 1961.

"We want to remember those that were considered the perfect Games, for the magic of the environment and for the fact that they were the last ones before the era… of the sponsors domain," said a statement released by the office of Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno.

"But also, we want to put forward Rome as the world’scapital of sport and ideal venue for important international events."

Celebrations will continue over the next few days with a dedicated football tournament and an amateur boxing meeting between Italy and the U.S., among other sporting events.

A memorabilia exhibition featuring photos, documents, posters, medals and uniforms from the collections of Olympic athletes is also opening Wednesday.

On Sept. 7, the Italian Post Office will issue a postal stamp series dedicated to the anniversary.

The 1960 Games were the first Summer Olympics to be commerciallybroadcast. They also marked the start of the age of African athletes in long-distance running, and registered the first death resulting from doping.

Rome Prepares 2020 Bid

Rome is celebrating the past with an eye to the future. In May, the Italian capital was chosen to represent the country in the race to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

Good infrastructure and road networks, as well as experience in hosting big events are supporting Rome’s bid.

The city plans to use 42 sporting facilities in total, of which 33 already exist, five are to be built and four will be temporary. The competitions would take place in two dedicated areas, one in the north of the city - around the Olympic Stadium - and one in the southwest.

Rome is preparing to spend a total of over $61 million, with $20 million for the application phase and $41 million for the later candidature phase.

The IOC will officially open the 2020 bidding process next year, with the vote on the Olympic city coming at the 2013 Session in Buenos Aires in 2013.

With reporting by Marta Falconi.