POSTED: July 17th 2016
InDepth

Olympics: Agenda 2020 opens the door for Budapest 2024 bid

Budapest already has a booming tourism market offering a rich cultural tapestry © Bigstock
Budapest already has a booming tourism market offering a rich cultural tapestry © Bigstock

The islands in the Danube River will be used in the bid © Bigstock
The islands in the Danube River will be used in the bid © Bigstock

Budapest 2024 venue map © Budapest 2024
Budapest 2024 venue map © Budapest 2024

JOHN GOODBODY (UK) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) One of the benefits of Agenda 2020 has been that it has allowed realistic bids for smaller countries and cities to stage the Summer Olympics. Not that Hungary in sporting terms can be viewed as a small country because since it took part in the first Modern Games in 1896 it is one of the 10 most successful nations in medal terms over the last 120 years and in per capita terms in the top three.

Yet, significantly, it is the only country among those 10 never to have hosted the Summer Olympics despite its status as a country which has produced so many celebrated fencers, modern pentathletes, swimmers, gymnasts and, perhaps above all, 'The Golden Team', the footballers, who won the 1952 Olympic tournament and, the following year, became the first national side from outside the British Isles to win in England.

One of the key features of Agenda 2020 was to prepare the way for a city to stage the Olympics by allowing more sports events to be held in established venues outside one metropolis than is now the case, thus hopefully preventing Olympic sites from becoming 'white elephants.' Of course, the football tournament is always spread round the country and the sailing and rowing events are often held outside the host city. However, Budapest, which is bidding for the 2024 Summer Games, is planning to take advantage of this flexibility in the thinking of the International Olympic Committee by having other events away from the capital.

Balaton, at 592 square kilometres the largest freshwater lake in central Europe, will host the sailing and open water swimming, while the surrounding area will stage both the golf tournament and also the handball preliminaries. It is planned that Debrenc will put on the football and basketball preliminaries, as will Gyor, that Miskolc will be another venue for football and the excellent facility at Szegeb for the kayak canoeing.

As Ivan Rosza, the communications director for the bid, says:"Through Agenda 2020, we believe the IOC is getting back to the roots of sport and wants to make it more accessible to people. Central Europe has never put on a Summer Olympics and we have more than 110 million people in Hungary and the surrounding countries." Hungary itself has a population of 10 million.

"Whereas the other cities bidding for 2024, Paris, Rome and Los Angeles are all well-established cities, with venues and infrastructure, we can leave a new legacy for sport. Hosting the Games will provide a new vitality for sport." This enthusiasm should accelerate next year when Budapest stages both the World Aquatics Championships and the European Youth Olympics, while for the forthcoming Games, the bid committee are working with public events such as the Szeged Music Festival to allow the public to see events in Rio on large screens in public places. 

He points out that economically, Hungary as a member of the European Union, is strong with a growth in GDP of 3.1 percent this year, while tourism is also booming. Yet Budapest has only 29,000 hotel rooms, within 50 kms of the city centre, with a further 13,000 in Balaton. London, by contrast, currently has 138,000 and although more are planned in Budapest, it is expected that the organisers will use cruise ships moored on the Danube in the centre of the city to accommodate the 'Olympic family' and visitors.

Rosza says:"We think we have the advantage of being the underdogs. Staging the Olympics would be an opportunity to put the city and the country on the map. We have a great story but we need to tell the world. We are not stopping at just bidding for the Games, we are bidding to win."

** JOHN GOODBODY will cover the 2016 Olympics for The Sunday Times, his 13th successive Summer Games and is the author of the audio book A History of the Olympics, read by Barry Davies, the BBC commentator. He was Sports News Correspondent of The Times 1986-2007, for whom he received journalistic awards in all three decades on the paper, including Sports Reporter of The Year in 2001.                


Keywords · Olympics · Budapest 2024


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