Hungarian regime withdraws Budapest Olympic bid

After days of chaotic and inconsistent communication, the Orbán regime announced that it is withdrawing the bid to host the 2024 Summer Games in Budapest. That only leaves Paris and Los Angeles in the running. Initially, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán simply attempted to distance himself and his government from the fall-out after the Momentum Movement and allied opposition parties exceeded all expectations by collecting more than 266,000 signatures calling for a referendum on whether to force Budapest City Council to withdraw the bid. Mr. Orbán, whose government had spent an inordinate amount of time and money promoting the bid and turning it into a question of national prestige suddenly realized that it was a local affair in Budapest and passed the unhappy task of dealing with the impending referendum to Fidesz Mayor István Tarlós. Mr. Tarlós pushed back and on Wednesday, he appeared in a meeting alongside Mr. Orbán and Zsolt Borokai, head of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, to announce that the bid was doomed and would be withdrawn, as continuing with it would be tantamount to an embarrassment for the country.

The Prime Minister’s Office will formally recommend to Budapest City Council and the Hungarian Olympic Committee the withdrawal of the Olympic bid. The government is putting the blame squarely on the opposition.

“The unity around this question that once existed has fallen apart, the question of the Olympics went from being a question of national significance to one of party politics. The responsibility for this outcome lies with the opposition, which changed its original position,” reads the government’s press release.

Viktor Orbán

Mayor Tarlós confirmed that he supports withdrawing the bid and will recommend this to the Budapest City Council. The head of the Olympic Committee added that although he is saddened by this turn of events, there was no other option.

The Momentum Movement, however, is enraged–and rightly so–that a democratic referendum will not go ahead on the issue of the Olympics, even after they collected 266,000 signatures. “The government which calls itself patriotic has ignored the will of the people and has run away in the most cowardly manner,” said András Fekete-Győr of the Momentum Movement. Mr. Fekete-Győr now plans to begin touring the country with his movement, holding local townhall meetings and broadening their discussions to include questions around affordable housing, education and health care.

I imagine that the Orbán regime will now attempt to quickly change gears by tossing into the public discourse a completely populist and polemical issue, almost certainly tied to fear mongering, into the national spotlight and plugging this as much as possible in all of its communication.

2 Comments

  1. Amen.
    This ruinous for the country robbery was forestalled.

    Internet tax, migration referendum, Olympic bid … it can be done.
    If one hits Orban hard enough he runs.

  2. The autocracy took flight, at the first sight of trouble. Obviously the last thing it wanted was a referendum, where the entire country could be consulted on a matter that was wanted only by Orbán and his oligarchs. The latter stood to profit enormously from the various construction scams, conveniently masked as a strategy to make Hungary great again.

    In one thing, Orbán is right. The democratic opposition, especially the Socialists, were grossly cynical. They didn’t have the guts to stand up to Orbán years ago. and merely jumped on the bandwagon, when a group of young activists finally mustered up some strength to say – enough is enough. Now that the Olympic scam is out of the way, let’s hope, the scamster himself, will also be shortly deposed. Even more important – let’s hope, a new political elite can emerge, that has the guts to push aside some of the shady figures from the past. (I do NOT mean Mr. Gyurcsány – I DO mean, Mr. Mesterházy, Medgyessy, Szanyi, and the various jokers in the half a dozen micro-parties that can’t organize a dog’s breakfast, even if paid to do so.) It’s time Hungary’s democratic political parties got down to work, instead of just publishing declarations, and writing high brow essays, that no one bothers to read or listen to. The last thing this country needs is to go from the frying pan into the fire. Hungary needs a democratic government that can govern, rather than just talk to the converted in Budapest’s café society.

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