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Hungary's Olympic athletes pressed for cash

Less than five months before the start of the 2008 Olympic Games, the Hungarian Olympic Committee (MOB) has found itself in a financial squeeze, MOB chairman Pál Schmitt said.

Schmitt said the committee had just received Ft 600 million in funding promised by the government last September, but it has received no money from this year's state budget. The government has promised Ft 430 million for Hungary's Olympic athletes, but the contracts on these subsidies have still not been drawn up. As a result, the committee has been forced to make preparations to take out a Ft 100 million loan, though this will be enough to cover only the basics, Schmitt said.

He noted that only about 0.2% of Hungary's budget goes toward financing sport, and this includes the Ft 3.5 billion subsidy for Hungary's Formula One Grand Prix. In neighboring countries, the ratio is 1%-1.5%.

So far 121 Hungarians have qualified to participate at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. (MTI-Econews)