Budapest’s 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid received a strong appraisal from Alastair Fox, the Director of Events for World Sailing, while he visited Hungary to inspect the proposed facilities this week.
Due to Hungary’s landlocked geography, sailing events would be held at the popular tourist resort location of Lake Balaton, less than an hour and a half drive from the centre of Budapest and accessible by modern highways of at least four lanes.
Fox reportedly said the ability to use an inland lake setting, rather than open sea as in previous Games, will bring a whole new dimension to the way the sport can be showcased.
He said, “in Balaton there is a unique opportunity to be innovative and to get more people on the water to enjoy watching sailing.”
“The conditions of open sea with wind and tides normally make it hard from a spectator point of view, but the calmer waters of an inland lake mean you can get people right in the middle of the action.
“It’s something we would want to really explore and encourage with the Budapest team if their bid to get the Games is successful”.
Lake Balaton, as the largest lake in central Europe and one of the region’s most popular tourist attractions, already has the hotel and accommodation infrastructure to handle major events. The majority of hotels in the Lake Balaton region has agreed to provide accommodation for the Games should Budapest host.
Budapest 2024 said following Fox’s visit, that the team will be working with World Sailing to create further innovative ideas to enhance the spectator experience.
The plan is to develop a water-based “stadium” environment, with spectator access to the medals course and the finish line in a way that is not normally achievable at a at a sailing event. Ideas include using barges which are already based on the lake, as well as making provision for other spectator boats to be stationed safely around the courses.
Fox said, “we have always aimed for a very strong legacy from Olympic events, and the plans for Budapest would fit within that ideal. The events and the infrastructure they are looking to develop would create a facility that would leave a long-lasting legacy in a very significant area of Central Europe.”
He said, “one of our key messages is that sailing is an inclusive activity that is an affordable sport for all. Holding the Games events in Balaton would inevitably provide opportunities for huge numbers both to watch and to then get involved in the sport themselves.”
Budapest is competing with Los Angeles and Paris to win the right to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024. The winning city will be selected September 13, 2017.