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  • Budapest Olympic Bid Faces New Challenge


    02/17/17

    (ATR) Budapest 2024 is refusing to comment on reports that the city’s mayor may consider dropping the Olympic bid if the political movement called Momentum Mozgalom forces a referendum.

    Spokesman Ivan Rozsa tells Around the Rings the bid won’t comment on either the mayor’s reported position or on speculation that the group has collected more than 200,000 signatures on a petition opposing Budapest’s Olympic campaign.

    According to Hungarian media reports, Momentum announced at a press conference Friday that it has collected 266,161 signatures to push for a referendum on the 2024 Olympics, well above the 138,000 required.

    Its petition will be submitted to the Budapest election committee. Momentum wants to ask in the referendum: "Do you agree that the Budapest municipality should withdraw its bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics?"

    Rozsa said that under referendum regulations there would need to be a 45-day window to check the number of valid signatures on the petition.

    Previously, Budapest 2024 has maintained that the movement to derail the Olympic quest is a minority voice in a city and nationwide population that is largely backing the bid.

    But the tide may be turning. A poll conducted by the Zavecz Research institute and published last week by news website Index.hu revealed that 51.95 percent of Budapest citizens would vote against the Olympics. This represents a 20 percent increase on a poll figure quoted in September.

    Hamburg and Rome have already exited the 2024 Olympic bid race. The German city withdrew after a referendum rejected the bid, while Rome mayor Virginia Raggi axed the Italian capital’s Olympic hopes when she came into office last year.

    Budapest, Paris and Los Angeles are the current contenders for the 2024 Games. The IOC Session will vote on the host city in Lima, Peru in September.

    Developments in Budapest’s referendum saga come hot on the heels of a public vote ending a regional bid by Eastern Switzerland to host the 2026 Winter Olympics. In a referendum last Sunday in the canton of Graubünden, 60 percent voted against the local government taking out a $25 million loan in an effort to host an Olympics for the first time since 1948.

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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