POSTED: February 22nd 2017

Budapest 2024: Bid set to readjust after referendum push

The new Danube Arena will be a centerpiece of the 2017 FINA Aquatics World Championships © Budapest 2017
The new Danube Arena will be a centerpiece of the 2017 FINA Aquatics World Championships © Budapest 2017

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The Budapest 2024 Olympic Bid team today spoke to the press explaining that it might take weeks to reanalyze the results of the Momentum Movement's gathering of signatures to push forward a referendum on the campaign. The bid team, led by Balazs Furjes, is endeavoring to maintain the unity behind the bid and is taking a step back to realign themselves.  

The Danube Arena was officially inaugurated for the upcoming 2017 FINA Aquatics World Championships and the international launch of the bid's promotion was set to take place. However the NOlimpia protest group deposited over 266,000 signatures questioning the bid and calling for a referendum on Friday, well over the 138,000 required, sending quakes through the Hungary and questioning the support for the bid.

Budapest had already gained the backing of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, however in the face of such a large number he took into consideration their point of view. Consequently Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos convoked a meeting with him tomorrow, Wednesday, to discuss the situation. The City Assembly and the Government Cabinet will also table discussions then they will share their feed back in an effort to better assess the situation.

Bid Chairman Furjes calmed the waters at the arena launch speaking out that today might be opening the door for more meaningful discussions.

He said to the press, "My presumption is that no decision shall be made tomorrow, until the opening of the debate, and we have just a few weeks to restore, and find support in the bid, support that was there, that was possible, that existed for almost two years, and if we cannot restore that than even a referendum could not help. So we have two conditions, each necessary, none of them sufficient on their own. I'm trying to facilitate that tomorrow, we have a few proposals."

The government has been behind the bid proposal for the past two years and through all the phases of presenting the candidature. The third phase kicked off February 3rd and on January 27th the Budapest City Assembly gave its strong approval to proceed so they could submit their file to the IOC on time.

Fürjes said at the time, "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."

And Mayor Tarlós added to the good news, "If Budapest wins the right to organize the 2024 Olympic Games, developments and investments can be realized in the next few years, rather than further in the future."

Tomorrow night Furjes is scheduled to hold a televised debate with Momentum Chairman Andras Fekete-Gyor at the Corvinus University of Budapest to tackle the questions in person.

Recalling the numbers, Budapest is a city of 1.76 million people according to the bid file and the Greater Budapest region is 2.98 million. The NOlimpia Momentum Movement gathered 266,151 signatures requesting a referendum surpassing the required 138,000 in favor. Now the local bid team and the government have their work cut out for them to reach the other 1.49 million citizens to light their hearts and minds in support of their Olympic Dream.

**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

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