Budapest, February 22 (MTI) – The government passed a resolution on Wednesday in which it proposed that the City of Budapest and the Hungarian Olympic Committee should withdraw Budapest’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.
The prime minister’s cabinet office told MTI that hosting the Olympics was a “national cause which requires unity”. Authors of the statement insisted that the initial unity had vanished in recent months and the Games had “become a cause for party politics out of a national cause”, and put the blame on the opposition parties “going back on their earlier decision” to support the Olympic bid.
Earlier in the evening, public news channel M1 reported that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Budapest Mayor István Tarlós and leaders of the Hungarian Olympic Committee had decided to withdraw the bid as they believed a rejection of the bid would mean a loss of prestige for the country.
Meanwhile, Tarlós told MTI that the city management, in agreement with the government, has proposed that the municipal assembly should withdraw the bid.
A new political group called Momentum has mounted a campaign to collect signatures with a view to securing a referendum on whether Budapest should host the Games. According to reports, it has collected around 266,000 signatures, twice the number necessary to trigger a plebiscite. Both the mayor of Budapest and the chief organiser of the 2024 bid had expressed doubts to the press about the bid’s chances.
Both the mayor of Budapest and the chief organiser of the 2024 bid had expressed doubts to the press about the bid’s chances.
Zsolt Borkai, head of the Hungarian Olympic Committee (MOB), said “no other decision could have been made” on Budapest’s Olympic bid given that it had been made clear during Wednesday’s session of the municipal assembly that “consensus cannot be restored among the political parties”. He said the Hungarian Olympic Committee would continue to do everything it can to bring the Olympic Games to Hungary in the future.
Green opposition LMP said in reaction to the announcement on the government’s resolution that Hungary would benefit from the withdrawal of the Olympic bid. Local lawmaker Antal Csárdi added, however, that it was “unacceptable” that the ruling Fidesz party had “ignored the will of the people” and was “still not willing” to call a referendum on the bid. Csárdi said that even if Budapest’s bid is withdrawn, the government would still have to account for the funds that had been spent on it. He said the government would have to take responsibility for “having wasted tens of billions” of forints on the bid.