POSTED: Wednesday December 7th 2016

Top Hungarian University in planned "Olympic city" backs Budapest 2024 Bid

Chancellor signs declaration of support, Debrecen Deputy-Mayor attends

The University of Debrecen has given an official statement of support to the Budapest Olympic Bid, praising its ongoing efforts to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games to Hungary in 2024.

Zoltán Bács, University Chancellor, and Balázs Fürjes, Chairman of the Budapest 2024 Olympic Bid, jointly signed the declaration after a lecture on the Olympic Games was given to students, followed by a Q&A session on the Hungarian capital’s candidature. The Deputy Mayor of Debrecen, Lajos Barcsa, attended the event, along with Olympians, regional council members and academics.

The declaration refers to "positive effects for Debrecen, Budapest, Hungary, and the wider region in the event of a successful application by Budapest 2024.”  The declaration also notes that the city of Debrecen would be able to strengthen its reputation and breadth of offering as a sporting host city, if the Games came to Hungary.

Debrecen is Hungary’s second largest city and has a deep-seated sport lineage, having produced a long list of Olympic greats including Olga Gyarmati, Pál Kovács, Márta Antal-Rudas and Lajos Papp. Olympic champion canoe sprinter - István Vaskuti - and the young up-and-coming swimming star of the Rio Olympic Games - Boglárka Kapás - both hail from Debrecen. Krisztián Berki, gold-medal-winning gymnast at the London 2012 Olympic Games, is currently a student at the University.

Already an experienced host of championship events, Debrecen has hosted the European Swimming Championships, the Modern Pentathlon European Championships, the European Athletics U23 Championships, the IAAF World Road Running Championships, and the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup Series (Debrecen World Cup). Next summer it will welcome para-athletes from around the world to the Para Swimming Hungarian Open.

Debrecen features in the Budapest 2024 master plan as one of six Olympic cities, in addition to the main host city of Budapest, and would host Football and Volleyball preliminaries.

“Our Games concept ensures that 90% of the population of sports-mad Hungary will be within 90 minutes or less of Olympic competition,” said Bid Chairman Fürjes. “Bringing the Games to Hungary would be a fantastically uplifting experience for Hungarians, and 2024 would be the first time in a long time that the Olympic and Paralympic Games would truly be accessible to an entire nation.”

The University of Debrecen stands to benefit from new sports facilities and new residential buildings, should Budapest 2024 win the right to host the next Olympic Games. New and renovated student accommodation across Hungary is one of the bid’s key legacy pledges. Budapest 2024 also hopes to foster programmes for talent development in young athletes as well as supporting sport education initiatives.

András Krisztina, economist and Associate Professor at the Corvinus University, and Vice President of the “Guardians of the Bid” - a group of athletes, academics and public figures supporting and advising Budapest 2024 - says that the sentiment of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) could be poised for change.

“In December 2014, the IOC adopted the Agenda 2020 reform programme, which supports and encourages smaller, more economical Games, like the ones proposed by Budapest 2024.

“Many of the benefits of hosting an Olympic Games are not quantifiable. One of the main focuses of Agenda 2020 is to allow bids to make a stronger case for developments that are already underway and will be realised irrespective of whether or not that city hosts the Olympics.”

The Budapest 2024 Games concept is closely aligned with the existing Budapest Sustainable Development Plan - so close that it is hard to separate the two, with the master plan adeptly making use of planned development. A key benefit to the country, and cities like Debrecen, will be the acceleration of those development plans, if Hungary is chosen as host by the IOC next September in Lima.

István Kovács, Olympic boxing champion, says that sport is a lifestyle for many Hungarians and that the experience of hosting the Games would be life-changing for the country.

“Is it worth hosting the Olympic Games?” he asks. “For me there has never been any doubt. It’s our national pride and our Hungarian spirit that drive us to seek out the Games; there is no greater focus for a nation, nothing that brings us together, like the Olympics.”

Kovács hopes that decision-makers will see Hungary as a reliable option due to its reputation as a dependable partner and the very successful delivery of many World Championship events, in addition to its Olympic history and achievements. Hungary was one of the founding members of the IOC and has participated in the Games since 1896. It is the only country ranked in the top ten of the all-time Olympic Medal table that has not yet hosted the Olympic Games.

Áron Szilágyi, two-time Olympic champion in fencing and European Champion, expressed confidence that an Olympic Games would unite the nation like never before, with unprecedented ease of access for locals and visitors alike.

“An average 12-minute travel time for athletes and short spectator travel times, thanks to the compact nature of the city, are unique features of the Budapest 2024 Bid,” he said.

Study and sport often go hand in hand in Hungary, where there is a strong cultural emphasis on higher learning. Ágnes Kovács, Chair of the Budapest 2024 Athletes’ Commission is completing her PhD in the Faculty of Physical Education and Sports Sciences of Semmelweis University. Áron Szilágyi also studies international relations at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest.

When asked how he manages to combine study with training, especially for an Olympic Games, Szilágyi gives a simple answer: “The Universities in Hungary understand. They support us.”

Along with the Corvinus University, the Central European University and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, the University of Debrecen is considered to be one of the country’s top educational institutes. Founded in 1538, the University is the oldest continuously operating institution of higher education in Hungary and accommodates one of Hungary’s national libraries. With a uniquely Hungarian approach to health and sport, all students at the University are required to participate in physical education. A new Sport and Health Science Education Centre was opened last year and the University offers support for students who show sporting talent.

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- This year’s Sportcal listings recognise Budapest as the rising star of major global sport events, ranking the city seventh among the top global sport cities and second in the Future Sports Cities Index 2017-2023. Named as European Capital of Sport 2019, Budapest is a high-value city, with an excellent transport infrastructure and a long-term sustainable development plan. The Budapest 2024 Olympic Bid proposes a compact and intimate Games footprint in the capital, and a truly nationwide Games that features sport in six other Olympic cities. Budapest 2024 is dedicated to deliver an on-budget and inclusive Olympic and Paralympic Games in one of the top 20 most peaceful countries in the world. Sports-mad Hungary was one of the founding members of the IOC and has participated in the Games since 1896. Hungary is the only country ranked in the top ten of the all-time Olympic Medal table that has not yet hosted the Olympic Games.

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Keywords · Budapest 2024 · Olympics

Name: Ivan Rozsa
Organization: Budapest 2024

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