Almost half a million, 485 thousand spectators viewed the events of the World Aquatic Championships at five venues in Budapest and Balatonfüred, Minister for National Development Miklós Seszták, President of the Organising Committee of the World Championships which finished on Sunday said at a press conference held on Monday in the Duna Arena, government’s press release said.
The Minister for National Development highlighted: more than 400 thousand visitors attended the supporter zones set up on Margitsziget (Margaret Island) and next to the Duna Arena. The venue on the island reached its full capacity in terms of spectators five times in two weeks, and during the men’s water polo final between Hungary and Croatia held on Saturday, not only the MAC sports field, but also the entire Margitsziget area had to be closed down.
“A great many foreigners supported their athletes at the venues, tickets were sold in the hundreds of thousands, primarily to Brits, Germans, French and Americans”, Mr Seszták said.
Mr Seszták cited the hotels in Budapest were fully booked, the average occupancy rate was in excess of 90 per cent during the two weeks of the World Championships, and meanwhile the average prices of rooms increased by 200 per cent.
“Two thirds of the guests specifically came to see the World Championships during this period, and they stayed four times longer than the average stay, for more than nine days”, Mr Seszták said who highlighted regarding the survey that on a scale of one to ten, the satisfaction indicator was 8.73, the sense of security averaged 8.84, and 66 per cent of foreign guests are planning to come back to Hungary.
The Minister for National Development drew attention to the World Masters Championships to begin on 7 August to which 11,711 attendees have been accredited, including 9,378 athletes, with a contingent of 6,501 swimmers, and 125 teams enrolled for the water polo tournament.
From among the members of the Organising Committee, Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog was especially proud of the opening ceremony where „culture and sports met”.
“More than five hundred dancers featured in the production who delivered the highest standards in terms of coordination and choreography, but I should also make mention of the light and sound technologies, and I believe that few countries are capable of something like this”, Mr Balog said. He added: Budapest will host the World Junior Synchronised Swimming Championships next year and the World Junior Swimming Championships in 2019. The European championships of swimming, water polo, synchronised swimming and diving will be held in the Duna Arena in 2020 which will be followed by the World Short Course Swimming Championships in 2024.
Mayor of Budapest István Tarlós highlighted: „as a born Budapest resident, it makes me especially delighted that the delegations of more than 180 countries felt at home in our capital city”. According to Mr Tarlós, the World Championships took the reputation of Budapest and Hungary to almost every corner of the world: „thanks to the superb standard of the broadcasts, we showed the world our most beautiful features, just as we would have liked”.
Balázs Fürjes, Government Commissioner for Priority Budapest Projects highlighted that 11 new official world records were achieved in the Duna Arena.
“Not including the times when people wore shark suits, this many world records had never been achieved in the year after the Olympic Games in the history of the World Championships”, he stressed. Mr Fürjes said: this is greatly attributable to the conscious Hungarian planning which was based on the study of a London firm „as in the case of a fast pool, the depth of the water, the technology of water surface tension and the flow of the water play a major part”. According to Mr Fürjes, the Hungarian nation was forged together by the World Aquatic Championships which „we did not organise merely for the sake of the World Championships, but beyond that in view of the decades to come”.
As we wrote before, the president of the international swimming federation (FINA) called the 2017 World Aquatics Championships organised in Budapest and Balatonfüred the best championships in FINA’s history.
Photo: MTI, Gyula Bartos/Ministry of Human Capacities