Comments On Olympic Referendum Initiative

  • 20 Feb 2017 6:00 AM
Comments On Olympic Referendum Initiative
Zsolt Borkai, head of the Hungarian Olympic Committee (MOB), said that the opposition parties had weakened the capital’s chances of staging the 2024 Games. It is now up to the municipal council to decide whether Budapest intends to stay in the running to host the event, he said.

The non-profit company that drafted the bid said that “over the past few weeks, a common national issue has turned into a party policy debate.

” The political unity supporting the Hungarian Olympics has broken up and without united political and community support Budapest has no chances to win in the race for the Olympics against Paris and Los Angeles, which are among the world’s largest and richest cities.”

The Budapest 2024 Nonprofit company added that it would suspend all related contracts, would place no new orders and would not use any more funds allocated for the bid until it is clearly established whether public support for the initiative can be restored.

Ruling Fidesz group leader Lajos Kósa said the issue of the Olympics concerned the city of Budapest and not the government or parliament. The development of the Momentum Movement which collected signatures for the petition poses a challenge not to the ruling parties but to the “fragmented left”, he added.

Regarding the costs of organising the Olympics, he said the International Olympic Committee would not allow the budget to get out of control and its new president wants much cheaper games than in the past. As a result, it makes no sense to cite the gargantuan budgets of the Olympics in Beijing or Sochi, he said.

Radical nationalist Jobbik leader Gábor Vona said that “[Prime Minister] Viktor Orbán has messed this issue up”. Vona confirmed that Jobbik continued to stand in support of the Olympics, “the country deserves it” and would be able to host it “but not this way”.

The social atmosphere has changed and even some core Fidesz supporters have become uncertain about the Olympics, he said.

Green opposition LMP said that the majority of the money originally intended to be spent on hosting the Olympics should be spent on Budapest.

The city’s residents generate 40% of Hungary’s GDP and its debt is expected to reach 160 billion forints (EUR 520m) by 2020.

Antal Csárdi, the party’s Budapest councillor, said the number of signatures submitted for the referendum has revealed that the city cannot be managed above the heads of its residents and that Budapest’s residents want a well-operating city with clean roads and hospitals at European quality instead of an Olympics.

Republished with permission of Hungary Matters, MTI’s daily newsletter.

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