Officials see Budapest's 2024 bid chances slipping away
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) Officials behind Budapest's bid to host the 2024 Olympics said the chances of success have been practically lost because of the disappearing political consensus.
Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos said he would meet with Prime Minister Viktor Orban later Wednesday to discuss the situation.
The bid may have to face a city-wide referendum promoted by a new political party, which gathered more than 266,000 signatures in favor of holding the vote, far more than needed.
The Budapest assembly, where Orban's Fidesz party has a comfortable majority, rejected opposition proposals to set a date for the referendum. Election authorities are currently inspecting the forms submitted by the Momentum Movement to determine if the number of valid signatures exceeds the minimum needed of 138,000.
Bid chairman Balazs Furjes said it made no sense to continue the effort unless widespread political support behind it was restored. Several opposition parties which earlier supported the bid have changed their position in recent weeks and months, especially as the referendum attempt gained impetus.
Furjes said Budapest's bid, competing with Los Angeles and Paris, would be a ''lame duck'' in the current political climate.
Budapest has ''never been as close as now to obtaining the Olympics ... but now it seems there won't be a good final result,'' Furjes told the assembly.
Zsolt Borkai, chairman of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, said the opposition parties had turned against the bid because of their own political interests.
''Now, near the finish line, they are destroying the dream which they earlier supported,'' Borkai said.
Opponents of the bid have highlighted concerns about corruption risks, overspending and the event's environmental impact. Opposition members of the assembly reminded city officials that they had vowed to carry out infrastructure upgrades regardless of whether the Olympic bid was successful.
Tarlos, for his part, read out a long list of earlier quotes from current members of the opposition proclaiming their support for hosting the Olympics in the Hungarian capital.
The International Olympic Committee will choose the host in September.