Budapest 2024 Monday announced that nine leaders representing Hungarian society are now ambassadors for the Hungarian Olympic Games bid.
The new members of the group were presented at a media event on the Danube River at the bid’s Visitor Centre housed on a 700-square-metre barge. The waterway would form an “Olympic Blue lane”, if Budapest hosts the Games in 2024, that would take athletes and officials between venues.
Balazs Furjes, Chairman of the bid, said that the ambassadors would add to the strong and growing national support for the Olympic Games in Budapest. He said, “our city is a strong contender with a master plan that turns Budapest into one, giant festival live site for Olympic sport. Our ambassadors will help us to tell Budapest’s captivating story to the nation and to the world, inviting all of Hungary to join in.”
The ambassadors will work closely with the Budapest 2024 bid committee and key stakeholders, including the Athletes Commission, to increase awareness of the Budapest bid and its Games concept. According to Budapest 2024, the concept offers the Olympic Movement a fresh approach to staging the Games in more compact, affordable, and accessible city and regional settings in support of the International Olympic Committee’s Agenda 2020 reforms.
At the high profile event a new video was shown highlighting how plans for the Budapest Olympic Games would connect people and communities through sport.
Ambassador Gyorgy Habsburg, TV personality and journalist, believes that the Olympic Games represent a great opportunity not only for Hungary but for the entire Central European region. He said, “with the right plan and concept for an Olympic Games, then the whole region can benefit greatly”, adding that he believes the preparation of the Budapest bid is excellent based on his personal experience of Budapest 2024 initiatives such as the House of Hungary in Rio.
Bid ambassador Christopher Mattheisen, CEO of Magyar Telekom, added, “the facilities are mostly already here, with just a few additional venues to build. It’s misleading to expect that an Olympic Games can be a profitable investment in two or three years – we need to take a twenty to thirty year perspective. Looking ahead in this way, I challenge Hungarians to dream big and believe in the dream”.
Ambassador Sandor Zwack, director of Zwack Unicum, spoke more about the social element of Budapest’s bid. He noted that the visitors he encounters regularly in his work are “without exception, amazed by the Hungarian capital”.
Bid Chair Furjes said, “an Olympic Games in Hungary will be more affordable, more compact, more festive, and more engaging for Hungarians, especially young people”.
Budapest is bidding for the 2024 Games along with Paris and Los Angeles. The host city will be selected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) September 13, 2017.
The new ambassadors, according to a Budapest 2024 statement:
- János Csák: former Ambassador to London, economist and sociologist; received the Hungarian Order of Merit Cross in 2010 in recognition of his work and community activities.
- Tamás Fellegi: lawyer and political scientist; former Minister of National Development and Minister without Portfolio.
- György Habsburg: Austro-Hungarian journalist, politician and public figure; acted as the President of Red Cross in Hungary; Hungary’s Ambassador Extraordinary to the European Parliament in 1996.
- Professor János Martonyi: former Foreign Minister, jurist, diplomat and lawyer; winner of the Széchenyi prize this year for contributions to his academic field.
- Christopher Mattheisen: Hungarian-American businessman and economist; Chief Executive Officer of Magyar Telekom Plc, the largest telecommunications company in Hungary.
- Andrea Rost: opera singer and honorary citizen of Budapest; winner of both the Kossuth and Liszt Awards for her outstanding achievements in culture and the arts.
- Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy: economist and businessman; Managing Director of the Raiffeisen Bank International AG; former co-Chairman of the Hungarian Fencing Federation; founder of the Movement for the Budapest Olympics (BOM) – a civil group that has been working since 2005 to bring the Olympic Games to Hungary.
- Fruzsina Szép: Berlin Lollapalooza Festival Director for the third year running; Artistic Director at Lollapalooza for six years; board member of the Yourope European Festival Association; honorary Associate Professor.
- Sándor Zwack: Director of Zwack Unicum, one of Hungary’s oldest companies and producer of uniquely Hungarian herb liqueurs.