Hungary PM Orban ready to back 2024 Olympic bid by Budapest
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Hungarian government is prepared to support a bid by Budapest to host the 2024 Olympics, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Hungary's national Olympic body will meet next month to consider joining the bidding race.
If the decision is yes, ''immediately we will apply,'' Orban said in an interview.
Budapest could join declared bidders Boston, Hamburg and Rome in saying they will meet the IOC's Sept. 15 deadline for applications. Paris is also expected to bid after winning the endorsement of the city council on Monday.
Budapest has bid unsuccessfully for the Olympics several times in the past, including most recently for the 1960 Games.
Orban spoke with The AP before meeting with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
He praised Bach's ''Olympic Agenda 2020'' program which is aimed at cutting costs amid concerns the Summer Games were ''only for mega-cities.''
''Now this age is over,'' Orban said. ''That provides a good chance for Hungary and Budapest.''
Most investments projects required for hosting the Olympics are already intended for completion before 2024, he said.
''To organize the Olympic Games in Budapest is not an exceptional challenge for us,'' said Orban, a former soccer player whose government since 2010 has strongly supported sports.
The IOC will select the 2024 host city in 2017.
Orban was in Lausanne also to sign an agreement with swimming's governing body FINA to host the 2017 world championships in Budapest.
The Hungarian capital was scheduled to host the event in 2021 but stepped in four years early after Guadalajara withdrew in February. The Mexican city said it could no longer afford the event because of the fall in oil revenues.
Hungary and Orban were praised Thursday by FINA President Julio Maglione as friends in a difficult moment.
''This is an example for sport and the world,'' said Maglione, who is an IOC member.
Hungary will host four matches at soccer's 2020 European Championship at a rebuilt national stadium in Budapest.
Orban said the venue, named for football great Ferenc Puskas, is part of a larger center for Olympic sports.
''It is important that other branches of sport get the proper emphasis,'' he said. ''They maintain more of the original meaning of what sport is about. Sports give a chance for us to understand how to win in a fair way and how to accept defeat with some respect.''
''When a nation has that kind of character, that nation has a future,'' Orban said.
Hungary is also building new swimming venue beside the River Danube for the 2017 worlds.