POSTED: August 16th 2016

Budapest sets out its stall for 2024 Olympics

The Budapest 2024 team in the Main press center at Rio 2016 © Twitter Balazs Furjes
The Budapest 2024 team in the Main press center at Rio 2016 © Twitter Balazs Furjes

Budapest 2024 Chairman Balazs Furjes couldn't wait to meet the press © Twitter Balazs Furjes
Budapest 2024 Chairman Balazs Furjes couldn't wait to meet the press © Twitter Balazs Furjes

JOHN GOODBODY in RIO DE JANEIRO / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The bid of Budapest to stage the 2024 Olympics "proves that Agenda 2020 is real", by making use of existing venues with 90 percent of the country's 10 million population within 90 minutes of a proposed venue for the Games, Lazlo Vajda told a news conference here today.

The Chief Operating Officer of the city's bid believes that spreading the events across the country not only fulfils the strategy envisaged by Agenda 2020 but also will be of future  value for Hungary and the Hungarians.

The city is deliberately positioning itself as the alternative vision for the 2024 Games, where it is up against three well-known rivals, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome, all of which have previously hosted the Games and are renowned tourist destinations.

 Because the members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who will vote on the host for 2024 in Lima, Peru in September 2017, are not allowed visit the candidates, it was suggested that they will be far less familiar with the city than its rivals.

However, Balazs Furjes, the bid's chairman, said that this was now less of a disadvantage because they could readily have access to the internet and social media, as well as the technical briefing, which will be reported on by the IOC Evaluation Commission in May of next year.

Answering the point that Hungary had relatively little experience in hosting major sporting events, Furjes pointed to putting on next year the World Aquatics and World Judo Championships, as well as the annual Formula One Grands Prix. He added "And, at the moment, we are staging a Music festival, which 500,000 people are attending."

Atilla Mizser, the 1992 Olympic modern pentathlon champion, emphasised that Budapest was in "the heart of Europe", with a total population of 110 million in Hungary and the neighbouring countries, lending itself to easy access for a huge number of foreign visitors for events.

Among the other venues, which will be used for the Games, would be Balaton, at 592 square kilometres the largest freshwater lake in Europe, where the open water swimming and sailing will take place and the golf events will be staged nearby. Miskovic , Gyor and Derenc would host matches for the football tournament, while the latter would also put on some of the basketball preliminaries.

 In Budapest, the compact nature of the bid is shown by it having 27 sports facilities within 10 kilometres of the Olympic Village, which will be purpose-built and then used for social and private housing afterwards. This will allow spectators to travel easily to several events on the same day.

There are 28,000 hotel rooms in Budapest, with more being built. However, this will be supplemented by using university accommodation as well as the possibility of mooring cruise liners on the Danube in the centre of the city to house more people.

Hungary has a long and distinguished reputation in the Olympics. Its National Olympic Committee was founded in 1895 and it has participated in every Games subsequently except for 1984, when political pressure from the Soviet Union forced the Hungarian Government to bar the team from going to Los Angeles. And it is the only country to rank among the top 10 in the medal table and never to have hosted the Olympics. 

Furjes denied that Budapest was an 'underdog' in the competition, adding: "If we should be afraid of them, they should be afraid of us." 

Emese  Szasz, who won the individual epee Olympic title here, summed up the bid:" It is about one word, 'passion', two words 'Olympic passion' and three words 'Hungarian Olympic passion.'

** 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 · Rio 2016

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