Budapest’s Municipal Council decided on Tuesday to support a bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Paris announced a counter-bid the same day with a budget of EUR 3 billion, about HUF 900 billion.
The Budapest vote was 25 councillors in favour, one against (Politics Can Be Different, LMP) and one abstention (Democratic Coalition, DK). Councillors for Fidesz, Jobbik, the Socialists and opposition Dialogue for Hungary (PM) supported the motion. A proposal regarding the site, structural plans, facilities and public services must be submitted by February 29, 2016.
The bid will be made jointly with the Hungarian Olympic Committee and with Parliament’s approval. The council mandated the mayor to sign a declaration of intent on the application with the chairman of the Hungarian Olympic Committee (MOB), following Parliament’s decision to support the bid.
Máté Kocsis of the ruling Fidesz party said other Hungarian cities besides Budapest would also benefit from the Olympics.
The Socialist Party’s Csaba Horváth said Budapest taxpayers contributed HUF15 billion a day to central coffers, yet government office chief János Lázár has recently rejected a similar amount of funding to them, even hinting at a HUF 7 billion cut in funding in the coming years. The Socialists nevertheless support Budapest’s 2024 bid, Horvath said, citing the Olympics’ potential to improve the country’s image.
The radical nationalist Jobbik party said it will support the bidding “in principle” in order to improve Budapest’s international assessment, despite its reservations on the preparations. Marcell Tokody, a Jobbik councillor, said there are concerns in connection with transport and accommodation provisions during the Games as well as on how the new facilities would be used after the Olympics.
“A HUF 774 billion budget for the Olympics is unrealistic,” Tokody said, noting that security costs had not been included. He said the 2012 London Olympics had cost an equivalent of HUF 4,000 billion and Beijing 2008 was HUF 11,000 billion to organise.
Antal Csárdi, councillor for LMP, told reporters before the session that based on a study into preparing for the Olympics, the project’s budget looks “severely underplanned”. He added: “Dreams and reality should be separated.” Budapest Transport Centre (BKK) has a HUF 15 billion hole in its annual budget and the health-care system is ailing, Csárdi said.
Councillor for the opposition DK Erzsébet Németh said the current financial position of Budapest or the country did not allow such a project to be undertaken.
Gergely Karácsony, the mayor of District XIV and a PM delegate, said corruption posed a great risk for the Hungarian Olympics, besides the concern this is a poor country that cannot spend enough even on its own health-care and education. However, he leant towards supporting the bid because it harboured great potential, too.
Opposition Együtt said it did not support the motion because there were “more important issues in Hungary at the moment than holding the Olympics”. It was irresponsible to pass this motion in the council without knowing the details of the project, Együtt leader Viktor Szigetvári told a press conference.