Is Orbán weaker after nixing bid for Olympics?

Budapest won't bid to host the 2024 Olympics. After the Momentum Movement collected 266,000 signatures for a referendum opposing the games, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán urged the city on Wednesday to withdraw its application. While some commentators lament the end of the glory days of Olympia, others are already dreaming about the fall of Orbán's government.

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hvg (HU) /

Hungarians could win back their country

The oppositional weekly hvg is delighted to see Orbán and his government backing down at the prospect of a defeat in the referendum:

“Hungary's government no longer dares look the people in the eyes. It is deeply ashamed and therefore avoiding microphones and cameras like the plague. … It's wonderful to see Viktor Orbán eating humble pie at the prospect of a whipping. … The people can stand up to the government. Viktor Orbán will run away if he constantly faces resistance. We can win back our country, street by street, law by law. When all the countless disappointed people join forces, anything is possible. But because the prime minister is such a coward it won't even be necessary to gain a majority. Visible opposition and the truth will suffice.”

Sme (SK) /

Orbán's cold feet

Given the lengths to which the governing party Fidesz and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán have gone in their bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games in Budapest, their withdrawal is nothing short of sensational, comments Sme:

“After all, the project was at the top of the government's agenda. It was meant to show how Fidesz had revitalized the country and brought prosperity. Ultimately, the train was derailed by a previously unknown citizens' movement. Within a few weeks they collected more than 200,000 signatures demanding a referendum; 138,000 would have been enough. But the change of course still comes as a surprise. Political pundits who are not associated with Fidesz suggest that Orbán did not want to risk a defeat in next year's elections, particularly in the liberal city of Budapest, where Fidesz enjoys far less support than in the countryside. ... Anyway, the chances of Hungary getting the Olympics were minuscule compared to Paris and Los Angeles.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Only democratic games can save the Olympics

Who needs the Olympics anyway? asks the Tagesspiegel:

“It's actually not that long ago that candidacy for the Olympics was seen as a sensible marketing strategy for cities. The games were so popular that bribes were paid in order to secure them. ... Since then, it seems more and more as if the games always have the same winner: the IOC. And always the same loser: taxpayers. ... The only way the Olympic idea can be rescued is through a different type of games: not merely games in a democracy, but democratic games in which the local population plays a part. Olympic Games that are beholden first to the city they're in, and only then to the IOC. Games that help the city move forward, as with Munich in 1972 or Barcelona in 1992; and that don't leave decaying sports facilities in their wake but rather give a new impulse to sports in general. Games that benefit the city's population as a whole and that citizens can boast about years later, saying: You see? We won.”