Budapest’s Olympic dreams are alive-and-well as the Hungarian Olympic Committee (MOB) Tuesday announced the appointment of Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy, one-time head of the stock exchange and President of the Budapest Olympic Movement, to be the committee’s strategic consultant.
Szalay-Berzeviczy is charged with “re-evaluating the conditions for a future Olympics organized in Hungary as well as strengthening the Hungarian Olympic Committee’s corporate relations,” a statement said, adding that he will work on a pro bono basis.
Budapest was forced to end its bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in March after an upstart opposition group Momentum Mozgalom was able to force a referendum over the project when it collected over 266,000 signatures on a petition that claimed the Games would be too risky and too expensive. Faced with the likelihood of a vote and possible defeat, municipal and national leaders wouldn’t risk the political capital and instead dropped support for the bid, ending its year-and-a-half run.
The group is opposed to right-leaning President Viktor Orbán, a supporter of the Games, and it is believed left-wing Momentum used the opportunity to gain recognition ahead of the 2018 elections. Momentum has since formed a party to contest those elections.
Following both Hamburg’s and Rome’s exit from the 2024 race, only Los Angeles and Paris remain.
“Under my presidency, the issue of the Budapest Olympics will be a special and highly significant chapter, and that is why I am counting on you – as a strategic consultant – primarily in the re-evaluation of the conditions for a future Olympics organized in Hungary and an examination of all the opportunities,” Krisztián Kulcsár, the newly elected MOB President wrote in his letter to Szalay-Berzeviczy.
“The other area in which I count on collaboration is in the strengthening and renewal of the Hungarian Olympic Committee’s corporate relations, in which as a former chairman of the stock exchange you similarly have exceptional experience.”
Szalay-Berzeviczy’s great-grandfather Albert Berzeviczy was one of the founders of the Hungarian Olympic Committee.
Should Budapest be forwarded by the MOB to once again bid for the Olympic Games, it may have to wait until the 2032 edition at the earliest. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is considering awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Games to Los Angeles and Paris at the same meeting in September this year. The possibility will be discussed at a special IOC Executive Board meeting on June 9.
Hungary has never hosted the Olympic Games but Budapest has bid unsuccessfully for the 1916, 1920, 1936, 1944 and 1960 editions.
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.