Opposition to Olympics in Budapest growing
The Orbán government's bid for Hungary to host the Olympics is on the verge of collapse. The Momentum movement, which plans to run against Fidesz in the 2018 parliamentary elections, has gathered more than 266,000 signatures against the bid, entitling it to call for a referendum on the issue. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is back-pedalling and has announced the final decision on whether the bid will go ahead for this week. Will he give up his plan?
Stimulate growth, gain self-confidence
The Olympic Games would do as much for Hungary as the New Deal did for the US in its day, the pro-government daily Magyar Hírlap is convinced:
“Investments in the Olympics would crank up the Hungarian economic motor. If you look back at economic history, you see that thanks to large-scale investments the US was able to overcome the Great Depression of the 1930s and get on the road to rapid growth. ... We can only repeat what we've said before: the Olympics is not a business but rather an enterprise that gives expression to the dynamism, competence and talent of a nation. The self-confidence that could be won from a successful hosting of the games would make Hungary fit for the numerous serious challenges of the 21st century.”
Orbán will back down in the end
Viktor Orbán is clever enough not to try and push through the bid to host the Olympic Games at any cost, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung believes:
“The weak opposition has managed to associate the country's candidacy with large-scale problems in the Hungarians' minds. The government is now under pressure to explain to hundreds of thousands of people why Hungary should spend billions for a prestige project while education and healthcare waste away. The protests over their neglect drove thousands onto the streets just a few months ago. Another issue connected with the Olympics is corruption: the Hungarians are aware of how those close to Orbán have lined their pockets. … So Orbán will hardly try to save 'his' Olympics and run the risk of turning the referendum into a vote on his government.”
Hungary in no state to host the Games
The country is far too corrupt, dilapidated and poor to host the Olympic Games, journalist Norbert Fekete writes in hvg:
“I've already heard the commercials with athletes urging people to support the Olympic bid. They stress how wonderful it would be for them to climb onto the podium in their own country. … A hundred or so individuals who on top of it all belong to the elite are demanding that the people of one of the most underdeveloped countries in the EU make their dream come true, which will cost at least seven billion euros. The interests of a handful of athletes are the interests of the nation. And the government is doing all it can to prevent the people from having a say. … I don't know whether these privileged athletes are aware of how run-down our country really is. Corruption is worsening, the education and healthcare systems are in a dreadful state, civil rights and liberties are being curtailed and the general mood is lousy. Those that can are fleeing the country.”
Against faint-heartedness and narrow-mindedness!
Despite the signature-gathering initiative Hungary mustn't give up its dream of hosting the Olympics, sports journalist András Ch. Gáll urges in the pro-government daily Magyar Idők:
“The citizens' initiative MoMo is appealing to the basest human instincts, firstly to the faint-heartedness which is so deeply embedded in Hungary and secondly to people's narrow-mindedness. … I have had the great fortune to have covered five summer Olympics. … Although critics of the Olympic Games like to argue that so far all the cities that have hosted the Olympics have ended up in financial trouble because of it, this is absolutely false. On the contrary! The summer Olympics in Seoul in 1988 marked the beginning of the Korean economic miracle and boom which is still ongoing today. … As a sports journalist and a passionate patriot I for one am certainly not willing to give up the dream of Hungary hosting the Summer Olympics.”