Budapest out of Games, LA and Paris already finalists

Feb 23, 2017: Sad news. For the Budapest 2024 team, for the IOC, and more broadly for the entire Olympic movement. Constrained to hold a referendum on his candidacy for the Games of 2024, the Hungarian capital preferred to put the thumbs. She retired from the race, leaving Los Angeles and Paris to compete for the voices of the members of the Olympic institution.

The announcement of the withdrawal of Budapest was in the air since the proclamation last Sunday of the results of the petition launched by the Momentum Movement, a political opposition group. In 30 days, it collected 266,151 signatures. It needed 138,000 to force the municipal authorities to organize a popular consultation. On Tuesday, February 21, the boss of the bid, Balazs Furjes, was still optimistic. He announced a decision “in the weeks to come”. He hoped to take advantage of this delay to “restore unity” around the Olympic project.

Balazs Furjes and the rest of the bidding team will go no further. Zoltan Kovacs, the government spokesman, confirmed to the Associated Press the decision to withdraw. It was allegedly taken by the mayor of Budapest, Istvan Tarlos, and by Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The two men were scheduled to meet on Wednesday (February 22nd) to decide definitively the issue. The abandonment of the candidacy must now be formalized by a vote of the Municipal Assembly, but its result is no doubt. The governing party, Fidesz, has a very large majority.

For the promoters of the project, the reason for such a failure is above all political. Lajos Kosa, leader of the Fidesz party in the Hungarian Parliament, suggested in a statement: “When the opposition attacked the candidacy of Budapest in the back, this destroyed the unity and reduced the chances of victory of the capital . Today, there is only one possible decision to prevent Hungary from losing its international prestige. “

The same is true of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, where Zsolt Borkai, the president, also points out the attitude of the opposition parties: “Now, near the finish line, they destroy the dream they endured more early. “

With the withdrawal of Budapest, the race for the Games of 2024 already knows its two finalists. Los Angeles and Paris remain alone in the race. The two cities will compete for the votes of the IOC members on 13 September 2017 in Lima, Peru, after a one-round election. It is necessary to go back to the 1988 Games to find a summer Olympic edition where the victory was played between only two files. Seoul beat Nagoya.

For Thomas Bach, there is no doubt that the withdrawal from Budapest is the result of a political context peculiar to Hungary. The IOC President suggested it before even hearing the decision of the Hungarian authorities. He’s not wrong. But the abandonment of Budapest comes after the successive withdrawals of Boston, Hamburg and Rome. It confirms the disturbing disenchantment of the Olympic ideal, already spectacularly materialized by the race for the 2022 Winter Games, finally reduced also to two finishers, Almaty and Peking.

In fact, the Hungarian renunciation does not seem likely to change the situation. Admittedly, Budapest 2024 proposed an alternative, a third way, which could have seduced some voters. His team had won the respect and admiration of the Olympic movement. His vision was relevant, his record solid and his project seductive. But the Hungarian capital still passed, at seven months of the vote, like an outsider against Los Angeles and Paris.

However, his withdrawal could have an influence on the ballot. When choosing between Los Angeles and Paris, IOC members will no doubt be wondering which of the two options offers the best arguments for restoring the image of the Olympic Games. Between Los Angeles and Paris, which of the two cities seems the best able to organize in 2024 Summer Games which will restore to the Olympic event all its power of seduction. Not simple. —- FRANCSJEUX

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