In a statement issued Tuesday the European Olympic Committees (EOC) released a “clarification” distancing itself from its role in an apparent endorsement of the Budapest 2024 Olympic Bid. The Hungarian Olympic Committee had issued a press release Monday claiming that 16 EOC members representing the Central and Southern European National Olympic Committees were backing Budapest as “one of the most accessible cities in Europe.”
“The NOCs of Central and Southern Europe is not an officially recognized organisation within the EOC,” the statement read.
“The EOC does not endorse the statement. With four outstanding 2024 candidate cities from Europe, the EOC will remain neutral at all times.”
Budapest is bidding against Hamburg, Paris and Rome in Europe. Los Angeles is the only non-European city in contention.
“All IOC Members vote as individuals in a secret ballot and the IOC does not permit IOC Members to discuss publicly how they will vote in advance of any election.”
The endorsement was organized by the President of the Croatian Olympic Committee and EOC Executive Board member Zaltko Matesa who said Budapest’s candidacy “is a testament to the new rules under Agenda 2020 – Budapest is the right sized city, it is an Olympic sized city and those countries surrounding us will benefit from having a global sporting event hosted in the centre of the region.”
The 16 national Olympic Committees involved met during October’s Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) gathering in Washington and the EOC conference held in Prague last week. They included Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey.
“It is clear that IOC Members who could be associated with this statement were not consulted in advance of the announcement being made,” Tuesday’s statement said.
“Therefore it is not appropriate to imply that IOC Members from the region will follow the guidance from the statement.”
“With the 2024 Candidature Process at such an early stage, the EOC urges all member nations to respect the IOC guidelines for the process in the months ahead. In this way, the IOC can fairly elect the best possible host city for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has developed written “rules of conduct” that closely monitor how the bids campaign in order to maintain a fair and ethical competition. Though it is not clear whether the endorsement announcement breaches any rules, the IOC will likely take notice.
According to the rules of conduct, bid cities and their related organizations “must refrain from any approach to a constituent of the Olympic Movement or a third-party authority with the aim of obtaining financial, political or other support which is not compliant with the candidature process established by the IOC and the present Rules.”
Penalties range from “confidential observations” in writing for minor breaches to a loss of up to five votes for “serious or repeated breaches.”
The five cities are now working toward a February 17 deadline to submit the first phase of bid materials that include notes around the Games concept as well as financial guarantees. The IOC will elect a winner in September 2017.
Budapest 2024 has yet to respond to a request for comment from GamesBids.com.