Budapest is the right city with the right ideas at the right time to host the 2024 Olympic Games, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Rio de Janeiro at the weekend at an event marking Hungary’s August 20 national holiday at the newly opened Hungarian House.
The Hungarian capital is the right place because the various infrastructure developments that would be carried out by then would ensure visitors could root for their countries in a real 21st-century environment, Orbán said.
He said it was especially significant that the Olympics and Saint Stephen’s Day coincide, because whenever Hungarians were searching for an identity in a time of hardship their only real source of joy was their country’s sports, and specifically Olympic accomplishments. During these hard times it had only been in sports competitions that Hungarians were able to demonstrate their perseverance.
Hungary’s Olympic bid faces competition from Rome, Paris and Los Angeles. Orbán said that in Budapest 27 venues would be split into two zones no farther than six kilometres from downtown. He said 90 percent of Hungary’s residents would be able to reach every venue within 90 minutes. Plans were to have the entire capital function as one big Olympic park, turning the entire event into one large sports festival.
Staging the Games in Budapest would also bring something new to the Olympic Movement, as Hungary would be the first real central European host country, Orbán said. If medium-sized cities are given a chance to host the Games with a medium-sized budget, then cities of similar size will also have a shot at staging the event in the future, he added.
Hungary would host the Games at just the right time because by 2024 it would be just over three decades since the country’s democratic transition.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said that although Hungary is small, its accomplishments in sports and in staging sporting events are huge. Bach congratulated Hungarian swimmer Daniel Gyurta on his election to the IOC Athletes Commission and Hungary on presenting its 2024 bid. Hungary understands the essence of the IOC’s Agenda 2020 programme aimed at making it cheaper to host the Games, Bach added.
Orbán noted that the Rio Olympics had once again seen Hungary beat bigger and more prosperous countries. After witnessing Hungary’s victory in the women’s 500 metres kayak four – the country’s eighth gold medal at the 2016 Games – he said the Hungarian population makes up 0.2 percent of the world population. “And yet we beat the world eight times. That is eight times that we were the best out of seven billion people on Earth.”
He noted that more countries won medals this year than at the London Games four years ago while the number of events was the same. Hungary’s athletes therefore had to seriously raise their game just to ensure that the country keeps its position.
If Hungary were not among the world’s 10 most successful countries in the Olympics, with its size and economic strength it would not have a serious argument to be chosen as the host country for 2024, the prime minister said. Hungary is the only country out of the ten most successful ones never to have hosted the Games, he noted.
Speaking about the Olympians of the future, Orbán said that with the world “heading in an unfortunate direction”, parents and grandparents need new ways to help the young generation discover a purpose in life. “There can be no greater help than sports,” he said.
Hungary finished the Rio Olympics ranked 12th in the gold medal count and 18th on the overall table.
Corruption game plan under way
The State Audit Office is preparing anti-corruption guidelines in preparation for Budapest’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics. The office said the guidelines will list the controls to be applied in various phases of large investment projects, with special emphasis on preventing or reducing corruption risks in the case of Olympics developments. Decision-makers would be given help on identifying the risks and implementing an integrity control system that could prevent or reduce them. The Audit Office has been asked to prepare the guidelines under a parliamentary decision to support Budapest’s bid to host the 33rd Summer Olympics and 17th Paralympics in 2024. In May, the office submitted its initial study on integrity risks during large investment projects and the controls to handle them.