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City council signs off on venue plan for Budapest 2024

Budapest’s city council today (Wednesday) approved the venue masterplan for the Hungarian capital’s bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as leaders again rejected efforts to stage a referendum on the bid.

The project outlines a central cluster located by the River Danube that would include the development of a 60,000-seat stadium for athletics events and the opening and closing ceremonies. The stadium’s capacity would be cut to 15,000 following the Games.

The plans revealed today also include a velodrome, a tennis complex with a 10,000-seat main court, as well as temporary facilities downtown for events such as beach volleyball and archery. Many of the venues are being designed to be reduced in capacity after the event or to be entirely temporary.

The Ferenc Puskas Stadium, currently being redeveloped to host games during the Uefa Euro 2020 tournament, would host the Olympic football finals. Several events, including golf, rowing and equestrian, and preliminary competitions for basketball, handball and football would be held outside Budapest. The Hungarian government stated earlier this month that five regional hubs for the Olympics are to be considered in the shape of Balaton, Szeged, Debrecen, Győr and Miskolc.

At its session today, the city council also rejected a proposal from a coalition of opposition parties to hold a referendum on the bid. Those against the bid have cited financial concerns, the lack of transparency and the risk of corruption surrounding the Olympic project as their reasons for calling for a referendum. Budapest has planned a budget of around HF one trillion (€3.2bn/$3.5bn), a figure many feel is too high and could eventually lead to cost overruns.

A proposal for a referendum on whether or not Budapest should proceed with its bid to stage the 2024 Games was last week rejected by the country’s Supreme Court. The Kuria in Hungary dismissed the proposal on the grounds that a referendum would only be able to be staged after Budapest had submitted its final bid documentation on February 17, essentially making any vote needless. The city council last month rejected a proposal to stage a referendum by a majority vote of 16 to 14, with two abstentions.