KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The Hungarian government has pulled the plug on Budapest’s always-doomed bid to win host rights to the 2024 Olympic Games.
The failure of the Budapest bid even to make it to decision day in Lima in September is a further blow to the International Olympic Committee and president Thomas Bach who have found European cities increasingly unwilling to reach deep into their taxpayers’ pockets to stage the Games in summer or winter.
Hamburg did not even register a formal bid after a negative result in a residents’ referendum while Rome’s campaign was cut short by new city mayor Virginia Raggi. Even Los Angeles was only the United States’ Olympic Committee’s second choice after Boston failed to come up to scratch.
Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said a decision to drop the bid was made after a meeting between Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos and the Hungarian Olympic Committee.
Fidesz, the governing party, said the decision was made to avoid “a loss of international prestige” as the bid had no realistic prospect of success
Earlier this week bid officials had still been talking hopefully of carrying on with their unbalanced campaign against the powers of Los Angeles and Paris but that has proved so much wasted optimism.
On Tuesday city and bid officials undertook the formal opening of the new Danube Arena which will host the FINA World Aquatics Championships in July .
The event had also been supposed to be an occasion to launch the international promotional campaign of Budapest 2024.
However, the bid event was cancelled after protest movement NOlimpia claimed at the weekend that it had acquired more than 200,000 signatures to trigger a referendum on the subject of hosting the Olympics.
The group, Momentum, argued that money earmarked for the Games by the government would be allocated better in social projects such as health services and education.
Bid leader Balazs Furje had admitted in a local radio interview at the weekend that “this ship has left.”