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AmCham forum supports 2024 Olympic bid

Budapest is competing with Paris, Rome and Los Angeles for the opportunity to host the event.

Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, right, shakes the hand of György Kárpáti, a three-time Olympic champion with Hungaryʼs water-polo team, during the April 20 AmCham business forum in support of bringing the Olympics here. (Photo: MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák)

Even though the host city of the 2024 Olympics will not be announced until September 2017, campaigns are in full motion and candidates are grabbing every opportunity to make their case. 

The American Chamber of Commerce in Hungary is throwing its support behind Budapest’s efforts to host the event, and AmCham’s April 20 business forum at the Corinthia Hotel was designed to build support and gather attention for the capital’s Olympic bid. Budapest is up against Paris, Rome and Los Angeles in a contest that promises to be highly competitive.

Budapest is building its hopes on the new set of rules of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) called Agenda 2020 that should make hosting more profitable. Existing and temporary facilities are preferred to new ones and since minimum capacity requirements have been scrapped, there should no longer be the need to erect unnecessarily large stadiums and sports halls.

“We are ready to improve the infrastructure in accordance with the needs of the games”, Budapest City Mayor István Tarlós said. He added that next year’s World Aquatics Championships should serve as a great rehearsal to demonstrate that Budapest can handle the challenge related to large-scale sporting events. “The idea of having the most significant sports gathering in the world is gaining more and more support nationwide,” Tarlós noted.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó argued that Hungary has undergone major changes in the past few years and the country is now economically strong enough to bid. “Central and Eastern Europe has become Europe’s growth engine and we are happy to represent the entire region,” he said. A successful bid is expected to create 100,000 jobs, and tourism, which broke records in 2015, should further thrive. Winning the bid is bound to cause infrastructure-related developments to accelerate.

Balázs Fürjes, government commissioner for major building projects in the capital stressed that we are witnessing a Budapest renaissance where architecture, gastronomy, public spaces and innovation are being elevated to a whole new level in an era of creative freedom. Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024 would be well deserved, as Hungary is the only nation among the top ten countries with the most gold medals that has never had the privilege to act as host, he said.

The IOC Agenda 2020 grants a chance for mid-sized cities like Budapest to have an economically viable event. “By awarding the 2024 Olympic Games to us, the IOC could send a message that it really means this reform. It’s all about renewal: New vitality to the Olympic movement, to the country and the city,” Fürjes sad. The timing looks ideal as well. The year 2024 will mark the 20th anniversary of the country’s EU accession, and Hungary will have spent 35 years in freedom after the collapse of communism.

The country is on a clear growth track and a successful bid is thought likely to give it another push. More investments are counted on and the nation’s global reputation would improve, the government commissioner said. The Olympics would also prove a great promotional tool for healthy lifestyles and sports development. “Hosting would be celebrated as a joint effort that would free up unprecedented energies in the country,” Fürjes added.

AmCham President Ferenc Pongrácz agreed that sports and health walk hand-in-hand. “AmCham Hungary is excited about the social and economic impact offered by the Olympics in the long run. We hope to see Hungary’s economic competitiveness grow as a result,” he said.