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  • Exclusive: Budapest Olympic Bid 'Almost Over'


    02/20/17

    Bid chief Balázs Furjes (ATR)
    (ATR) Bid leader Balázs Furjes tells Around the Rings Budapest 2024 cannot survive unless unified support can be restored.

    In an exclusive interview with ATR Monday, Furjes admitted the bid was floundering after political movement Momentum Mozgalom collected 266,161 signatures on a petition to trigger a referendum on the 2024 Olympics.

    “It’s almost over but we still have a chance,” he said.

    “Budapest is in a difficult situation because unity is dismissed. Unified support is broken. Without unified support obviously there is no chance in this competition,” he added.

    “We will keep on fighting.”

    Furjes and senior bid officials are holding emergency talks with the city council, government, opposition parties, the anti-Olympics lobby and the Hungarian sports movement in a desperate attempt to save the struggling bid.

    He said the bid has “a few weeks to do this. A lot of discussions are needed”. But the end could come much sooner.

    “It’s worth spending time on trying to save it. It [a Hungarian Olympics] has never been so close. We are ready to participate in debate and dialogue,” Furjes said.

    “We only started this because of unified support.
    Now the question is: can [we] restore this unified support.”

    Asked if he rated Budapest’s chances of staying in the bid race 50:50, Furjes said: “I am an optimistic person. But this is the most difficult issue the bid has ever experienced. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

    Budapest 2024 has scrapped Tuesday’s plans to launch its international promotional campaign. An event was scheduled to tie in with FINA’s inauguration of the new aquatics center. Only the FINA unveiling will now go ahead.

    “We do not start international promotion until we get back the political unity,” Budapest 2024’s communications director Ivan Rozsa told ATR.

    He said that the anti-Olympics lobby spearheaded by Momentum was not the only issue hurting the bid. Rozsa admitted that not all political parties were now behind the bid as they had been previously. A few weeks ago, only five out of 29 city council members opposed the Olympic bid in a vote; but support has since dropped at city and national level.

    “The bid is ongoing. But without political unity we have zero chance again LA and Paris,” Rozsa said.

    Los Angeles and Paris are the only other contenders in the race for the 2024 Olympics. The IOC vote takes place in Lima, Peru in September.

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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