NOlimpia Closes In On Budapest 2024 Referendum Target With A Week To Go As Bid Support Weakens

Budapest’s anti-Olympic bid movement is in a race against the calendar, and must still collect tens-of-thousands more signatures in seven days if it hopes to force a referendum over the city’s dream to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

NOlimpia has reportedly collected 110,000 signatures, just short of 138,000 target to force a Budaoest 2024 referendum. One week remains (NOlimpia Facebook Photo)
NOlimpia has reportedly collected 110,000 signatures, just short of 138,000 target to force a Budapest 2024 referendum. One week remains (NOlimpia Facebook Photo)

The Momentum Mozgalom’s NOlimpia campaign has already collected more than 110,000 signatures over the first three weeks of a 30 day window, but with only a week remaining, organizers have yet to hit their 138,000 signature target – the number needed to make the referendum official, according to the municipal elections board.

But organizers hope to do better and collect as many as 170,000 signatures, that includes a margin that will allow for collections errors that could include signatures from people who live outside of the Capital in Hungary.

If the referendum is approved, a vote could come as early as June, or as late as October, according to a NOlimpia spokesperson,  An October vote would mean the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would be making it’s decision in advance, and if it were to select Budapest to host the Games, the choice would be contingent on positive referendum results.

In that case it would be highly unlikely that IOC members would cast their votes in support of Budapest.

Budapest is already considered an outsider in the three horse race that includes 2 two-time Olympic hosts Los Angeles and Paris.  Budapest 2024 is hoping its campaign for a mid-size city to host the Games will leave a legacy that will make a greater number of cities able to stage the Olympics in the future – a boost for the Olympic movement that is running out of mega-cities that are interested in bearing the risks and costs.

A new poll conducted by Závecz Research revealed that 52 per cent of Hungarians surveyed oppose the bid and will vote in an upcoming referendum if approved.  20 per cent support the bid and 12 per cent say they will not vote.  In September 2016, shortly after the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where Hungary impressed with 15 total medals including eight gold, a poll showed only 32 per cent opposed the bid.  Now, 63 per cent of decided voters would reject the bid in a referendum.

Bid opponents say the Games in Budapest would be too risky and too costly, and it’s not the right time to undertake the project.  They do say however that things may change and a bid may be feasible in the future.

The IOC has planned a three-day Evaluation Commission visit to the city starting May 10.  The bid will make a technical presentation to stakeholders in Lausanne in July and the IOC will elect a winner September 13 in Lima, Peru.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of 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.

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