POSTED: February 17th 2017
NewsUpdate

Budapest 2024 feeling the heat of the referendum push

Momentum Movement Chairman Andras Fekete-Gyor pulls a cart with more than 260,000 signatures of Budapest voters for a referendum on Budapest's bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics in the city hall of the Hungarian capital © Getty Images
Momentum Movement Chairman Andras Fekete-Gyor pulls a cart with more than 260,000 signatures of Budapest voters for a referendum on Budapest's bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics in the city hall of the Hungarian capital © Getty Images

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The Budapest 2024 Olympic bid got a rude awakening today as the local political group Momentum Movement submitted over 266,151 signatures to force a public referendum about hosting the Games. The required number was 138,000 valid signatures in order to get the measure onto the ballot.  

Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos was confronted by the Momentum Movement with the signatures, however they still need to be validated if they all are from the Budapest area and are legitimate. These must be vetted by the Budapest Election Office as to whether 10 percent of Budapest's approximately 1.4 million voters have been brought in to merit a referendum.

The Hungarian Olympic Committee has left the decision up the Budapest Assembly and blamed opposition parties for splitting Hungarian society by gaining the signatures against the bid. The Budapest Assembly just passed their endorsement to the Olympic bid at the end of January.

SportsFeatures.com earlier wrote: "This was a magnificent endorsement of our plans to host the 2024 Games in Budapest. With only four votes registered against the proposition among the twenty-nine voting members of the Assembly, city leaders hailed the strong cross-party support for the city's bid," expressed Budapest 2024 Chairman, Balázs Fürjes.

The Momentum political group was started in 1989 by a group of students after the collapse of the Communist Regime. And today it is still primarily composed of millennials and young people and has even been seen as using the question of the Olympic bid to push their agenda to gain traction on the local political scene. They hope to become a political party before the elections are held next year.

NOC chairman Zsolt Borkai today noted in a statement, "With this activity, they have greatly weakened and constantly weaken Budapest's chances and weaken Hungary's bid."

Reuters reports that Andras Fekete-Gyor, chairman of the Momentum group, said, "The past 30 days have been one of the most magnificent periods in the history of democracy in Budapest," told journalists after announcing the petition result.

"It would be really cowardly on their part if (Orban and Tarlos) made the referendum impossible or if they withdrew the bid before calling a referendum. This would be not only cowardice but also betrayal."

Mayor Tarlos met with Prime Minister Viktor Orban for hours today to discuss the Momentum initiative and the two are set to meet again next week after the city assembly and the government cabinet have discussed the situation and offered their input.

Tarlos announced on Hungarian state tv, "Then we will discuss and decide which are the upcoming, desirable steps, at the ethical and practical level, about the Olympics."

Fekete-Gyor noted that now the election officials had 45 days to verify the signatures. He also said at city hall today, "We emphatically request Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Mayor Istvan Tarlos to hold the referendum and refrain from blocking it from being held. Not asking people's opinions about organizing the Olympics in Hungary was a huge omission on their part."

Budapest is competing against Paris and Los Angeles to host the summer Games and the IOC will vote on their host city in September this year.

**LAURA WALDEN has over twenty-five years of experience in the Olympic Movement, formerly at the European Olympic Committees with SportEurope under former IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge and IOC Member Mario Pescante. She worked with the Rome 2004 and Turin 2006 Olympic bids and also managed PR & media for Dr. Jacques Rogge during his campaign for the presidency.


Keywords · Budapest 2024 · Olympics


For more information contact:
Laura Walden ()


All original materials contained in this section are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Sports Features Communications, Inc the owner of that content. It is prohibited to alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.