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Fidesz blames opposition for Olympic bid withdrawal

The Hungarian government has issued a recommendation proposing the withdrawal of Budapest’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister informed national wire service MTI. In it, governing party Fidesz appears to blame opposition parties for the outcome of the capital’s bid.

According to official government website kormany.hu, the recommendation to Budapest City Council and the Hungarian Olympic Committee (MOB) reads: “The Olympic Games are an issue of national importance for Budapest and for Hungary. It has long been recognized that to promote issues of national importance there is a need for consensus. This consensus existed between the country’s leadership and the political parties when the Olympic bid was submitted, and this consensus was expressed in the 92% majority decision by the General Assembly of Budapest City Council and the 80% majority decision by the National Assembly. In recent months, however, the unity which existed earlier has been dismantled, and the Olympics has become a party political issue. The opposition parties that have backed out of their previous commitment must be held responsible for this.”

The recommendation further states: “Only those cities where consensus on the issue has emerged and been preserved can claim to have a chance of successfully bidding for and hosting the Olympics. Today this is still the case for Paris and Los Angeles. Since in Budapest the required unity has disintegrated, it is now inconceivable that the city could mount a successful Olympic bid. In this situation the only responsible decision is for Budapest and the Hungarian Olympic Committee to withdraw their bid to host the Olympics.”

The move comes as confirmation of reports in Hungarian state-owned media late Wednesday that Budapest would be withdrawing its bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

Although the decision itself is not a complete shock, the speed with which it was reached is indeed astonishing. Less than a week has passed since last Friday when fledgling political party Momentum Mozgalom submitted more than 266,000 signatures, almost twice as many as it needed, to call a referendum in Budapest on the capital’s bid. Ever since, events have developed rapidly.

Soon after the signatures were submitted to the capital’s election office, anonymous sources from the ruling party Fidesz began to emerge, hinting that the country might withdraw its bid, speculation that seemed further supported by what appeared to be a brewing row between the mayor and government over the matter.

The decision to withdraw the Olympic bid triggered a rush of outraged headlines in government-friendly media today, such as “The left betrayed the nation again” (Magyar Hírlap), “The opposition shattered our Olympic dream” (Magyar Idők), and “We had a dream” (Nemzeti Sport).

In response, left-leaning online news portal 444.hu noted that “all that happened was that Momentum initiated a referendum on the holding of the Olympics, which scared the government so shitless that it cancelled the Olympics without the referendum even being called.”