POSTED: February 25th 2017

Hungarian PM Orban: Budapest 2024 'Olympic Dream Murdered'

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was a strong supporter of the Budapest 2024 bid © Getty Images
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was a strong supporter of the Budapest 2024 bid © Getty Images

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The Budapest Olympic bid has now officially pulled out of the 2024 race and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had strong words for the fledgling Momentum Movement party. Budapest's exit leaves only two candidates, Paris and Los Angeles, to duke it out to host the summer Games. 

The Hungarian bid was threatened when the rising political group gathered over 266,000 signatures to force a referendum throwing local support for the bid in question.

MTI news reports in their daily newsletter that Orban pointed the finger at the Momentum Movement group and said in a public radio interview, "The campaign to collect signatures for a planned referendum on whether Budapest should host the 2024 Summer Olympics ended up "murdering a dream".

Orban was a strong backer of the campaign but decided to pull the Budapest bid in an effort to save Hungary from the embarrassment of possibly losing a referendum.

He said, "The decision to abandon the bid was motivated by a desire to save Hungary from shame. Winning an Olympic bid requires unity, this is why there were no referendums held in Paris and Los Angeles, the other cities bidding to host the games, he said. The decision was to save Budapest the embarrassment of the bid being "absolutely trashed" on the vote, which would have been inevitable after a plebiscite"

The politician also referred to the Momentum Movement as the "new SZDSZ", the former Liberal coalition partner of the Socialist governments of 1994-1998 and 2002-2008 and called them the new "MSZP-SZDSZ coalition".

The Momentum Movement reacted blaming the ruling party, Fidesz, early on for joining the Socialists to field joint candidates with the SZDSZ.

Budapest 2024 

Budapest 2024 Bid Chairman, Balázs Fürjes, issued a statement: "We are immensely proud to have been part of the 2024 Olympic Bid family.

"There is no greater honour in world sport than hosting the Olympic Games, and we are immensely proud to have been part of the 2024 bid family,' said Fürjes. "We chose to bid because we believed, and continue to believe, in the transformative power of sport and the values of the Olympic Movement.

"We have achieved great things collectively through this bidding process; this has been a major national effort on behalf of sport, the city and the nation.

"The Games in 2024 would have accelerated the long-term development plan for the city, thereby greatly improving the lives of the citizens of Budapest and Hungary, with benefits in many areas including public transport, employment, housing and accessibility.  This was a great opportunity for young Hungarians to show to the world their great sporting prowess, creativity, innovation and business acumen. Ours was a bid that also had the potential to reach new audiences in the Central European region, leaving fantastic sport legacy for 150 million people.

"Our model offered a vision for change, especially relevant for those mid-sized cities that dare to bid for the Games.  We believe that we have brought hope to cities like Budapest all around the world, by showing that the Olympic Games can be accessible to everyone, transforming mid-sized cities in ways that simply cannot be achieved in a developed metropolis.

"We thank the IOC for the excellent cooperation that we have enjoyed throughout the process; their commitment to Agenda 2020 made it possible for us to bid, and their engagement with Budapest was constructive and encouraging throughout.

"We take the opportunity too to wish Los Angeles and Paris well for the remainder of the process; we have been proud to stand alongside them in this competition.

"Our 120-year-old dream of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games remains alive. We continue to believe in the model and we hope to have the chance one day to prove the case.

"Budapest is a sport city on the rise: we still look forward to welcoming the world to a summer celebration of sport, with the FINA World Championships, the Judo World Championships, the Finn Gold Cup and the European Youth Olympic Festival all taking place in Hungary this year. We also look forward to 2019, when Budapest is the European Capital of Sport and will host the European Maccabi Games among an A-list of championship events." 

Los Angeles 2024 reacts

LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman put out a statement in regard to the Budapest 2024 withdrawal: "All of us at LA 2024 are disappointed in this news. We have the highest respect for Budapest 2024's pioneering approach to designing and promoting their bid, and we look forward to continued friendship with our Hungarian colleagues.

The world is entering an era of unprecedented change. This is the 'new reality' for the Olympic Movement and it calls for new thinking. 

We believe that now, more than ever, the IOC must focus on selecting a 2024 Host City that redefines sustainability, connects the Olympic Movement and its benefits to the world's youth like never before and encourages future cities to bid for their Games. 

With 88% public support, and even higher support from young Angelenos, LA 2024 offers an innovative, low-risk and truly sustainable solution to help secure the future of the Olympic Movement in 2024 and beyond."

Paris 2024

Paris might be the next city to feel the appeal for a referendum as the Mes Opinions website has a petition up that is gaining signatures by the day. So far there are over 6,500 signatures with over 1,500 in the past 24 hours. 

The IOC will vote on their 2024 city in September and from the look of things it is a possibility they will offer the loser the 2028 edition as well. IOC President Thomas Bach has said that he feels that there were "too many losers" in recent bid campaigns and has floated the idea of an allocation with this round.

**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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