On Tuesday an appeal was filed by a member of Budapest’s voting committee against the same group’s December 15th green-lighting of a referendum on the city’s 2024 Olympic bid. According to Index.hu, if the appeal fails the supporters of the referendum could begin collecting signatures for the first phase beginning the end of January.
The decision on whether the referendum can proceed is now in the hands of Hungarian courts.
The Olympic bid referendum initiative has been packaged with a possible vote on another controversial project involving the construction of museums in a public park. If courts give the go-ahead, organizers will begin collecting the 140,000 signatures forcing a referendum as early as the spring.
The question to be asked on the ballot, in Hungarian, would be:
Do you agree that the municipality of Budapest should not apply for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in Budapest?
Calls for a referendum on Budapest’s bid came after the city council voted to reject such a possibility just days earlier. The council originally considered the possibility after Hamburg’s bid for the 2024 Games was felled by a close referendum in November even though polls leading up to the vote suggested that a ‘yes’ decision was certain.
The high costs of organizing the last Winter Games in Sochi, and budget challenges that have darkened preparations for the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Games have instilled caution among potential stakeholders of the Games.
If Budapest were to lose a referendum the already small bidding field would be reduced to three even after International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach last year introduced a series of reforms designed to strengthen the Olympic brand and attract new bidders.
The other contenders for the 2024 Games are Los Angeles, Paris and Rome who have all confirmed that referendums will not be required to move their plans forward. The IOC will choose a host city September 2017 in Lima, Peru.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.