A day following Wednesday’s announcement by Mayor Istvan Tarlos that he will drop Budapest’s bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, members of the Athlete’s Commission have spoken out on the news.
Even before the Bid Committee, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or the Hungarian Olympic Committee (HOC) have officially spoken about the withdrawal of the Olympic project, the Athletes’ Commission released a statement Thursday expressing their disappointment.
“We are indescribably sad and disappointed,” a statement, signed by the group’s President Ágnes Kovács began.
“It is a huge loss for our country that ended the Hungarian Olympic and Paralympic dream.”
But the group said they will push for a future Games.
“We all know that not to lose faith after a failure,” the statement continued.
“Athletes are therefore clear: do not give up.
“That is why we are confident that the Hungarian capital in the not too distant future will re-apply and we believe that Budapest will be fit for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
The athletes said they will regret missing what they believed to be a tight competition ahead, despite wide speculation that the Hungarian city was an outsider among Paris and Los Angeles.
“It is particularly painful that Budapest does not take part in the final contest that will be decided in September in Lima.”
Meanwhile bid Chief Balazs Furjes told MTI Thursday “it frustrates me because we have never been so close… We dropped out in front of the finish line.”
“We had unity and we lost it,” he said, referring to unified support from the Prime Minister and Mayor for the entire campaign until last Thursday after the Momentum political group delivered 266,000 signatures to the elections commission ensuring that a referendum would be needed to support the bid. It was widely believed that a lost referendum would reflect poorly on Prime Minister Viktor Orban ahead of elections next year.
Even the bid-opposing Momentum group were disappointed that the campaign was dropped.
“We have pushed back the government, but we have also missed an opportunity for discussion,” the group’s leader Andras Fekete-Gyor said to the press.
Furjes, who on Tuesday assured a group of international reporters that his bid “had a few weeks” to build unity before the Mayor would call it off, had approached Wednesday with caution.
He had told GamesBids.com that is was “important” for the IOC to consider Budapest’s plans, saying it was a real alternative to the bids from mega-cities that if chosen again, would effectively shut out Olympic participation by mid-sized cities.
But he added before Wednesday’s announcement “never say that we won’t come back.”
“It’s not if, but when Budapest will host the Games.”
But with Budapest out of the race, IOC President Thomas Bach’s suggestion that it might be time to consider awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games to Paris and Los Angeles at September’s all-members session has come to the forefront. If that plan moves forward, it would effectively shut the door on Budapest, and any other city interested in hosting the Summer Games for another 15 years.
The Budapest City Council will vote on the bid’s withdrawal on March 2 before the bid committee, through the HOC, can notify the IOC that it will withdraw from the competition. The vote is expected to pass without issue.
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.