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Budapest | Olympic dream lives to fight another day

  • City will continue to build venues planned for 2024 bid
  • Bid leaders would hold a referendum earlier in the process when launching future campaigns
  • Current IOC evaluation process disadvantages smaller cities because of a ‘lack of opportunities’

 

The head of Budapest’s ultimately doomed bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games insists that the city’s dream is still alive and that the lessons learned in the process will help any future bid.

Balász Fürjes, the lawyer who is also the Government Commissioner for Major Budapest Projects, says that the International Olympic Committee will also have learned from the Bidding process and could do more to help cities progress.

Critically Fürjes confirmed that many of the venues and facilities that formed part of the Budapest Games plan will still be built, positioning the city for a fresh bid when conditions are more favourable.

Opposition

Despite being launched with the approval of 93 per cent of the City Council, Budapest 2024 was ultimately derailed by local political opposition and a referendum that showed a lack of support among the public.

It has become a familiar story to those who observe the Olympic Movement and Fürjes believes that the Budapest experience should encourage the IOC to consider extending the invitation phase of the bidding process and tweaking its procedures.

“A longer invitation period in which more assistance could be provided to cities would be [a move] in the right direction,” he says.

“Maybe the IOC could work jointly with the bid cities on communications in their cities to make the opportunities [created by] hosting the Games better known. After all, who knows how to communicate the Olympics better than the IOC themselves?” he says.

Fürjes says he also feels that cities like Budapest are at something of a disadvantage because of “the lack of opportunities” to tell their story under the current IOC evaluation process.

“I understand concerns about bidding costs and visits to cities, but it is difficult when Budapest has to compete with two of the best-known cities in the world. We wanted to engage more and elaborate,” he explains.

Referendum

Reflecting the apparent new realities of Olympic bidding, Fürjes says that any future bid will only progress if it is supported by a referendum held earlier in the process.

“I am convinced that the conditions for a Budapest bid will be there again,” he adds. “Ours is a 120-year-old dream and it is still alive. It is not a case of if but when we bid again.”

The city, which will hold this year’s Fina (International Aquatics Federation) World Championships, is determined not simply to push ahead with the creation of a range of sports facilities – including building the planned Olympic stadium in its 15,000-capacity legacy mode with the ability to increase to 50,000 for major events – but to instil an appreciation of the Olympic Games among young people.

There are plans for an Olympic Museum highlighting Hungary’s long and successful Olympic history while an educational programme will teach schoolchildren about the Olympic Movement and its values.

“We remain a dedicated Olympic nation and it was an honour to participate in the process,” Fürjes says. “We learned a lot from our dialogue with the IOC and International Federations and by pushing ahead with our programme of facility development every year Budapest will become more and more ready.”

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