Budapest’s 100-Year Olympic Dream

Nearly a hundred years ago, Budapest was preparing to host the summer Olympic Games. In the early 1900s, the Hungarian capital was thriving and had won its bid to host the 1920 Olympics. Unfortunately, World War I broke out in 1914, and the rest is history. Antwerp hosted instead, and the Budapest Olympic Games were yet another loss of the Great War.

As we observe the war’s 100th anniversary, Hungary is preparing to give the games another try. The country’s Olympic Committee has unanimously voted in support of Budapest’s 2024 Olympic bid. Budapest is in the running.

This is not just a prestige thing. A conservative feasibility report shows that Budapest would benefit significantly from the event, injecting 1.1 trillion HUF into the national economy, well above the 774 billion HUF in investments estimated as necessary to hold the event. The benefits of hosting the Olympics would also include the new and renovated infrastructure that would remain available to the city long after the games. According to plans, the Games would be held between July 19 — August 4.

The Hungarian Olympic Committee, or MOB, established a professional body in December 2014 to examine the country’s prospects in submitting an Olympic bid. Based on their findings, the MOB’s general assembly passed a resolution in February of this year recommending the consideration of an application. Today, based on these results, a broader consultation is now underway.

Budapest has seen a wonderful renewal over the past several years. Those who visited the city fifteen or even ten years ago would be thrilled by all that has changed. World Heritage sites like the Castle Bazaar or Kossuth Square have been completely renovated, and the capital’s fourth metro line is now finished and running. Many of the old market halls have been spruced up, and historic streets refitted for pedestrians only. The city’s transit system has been given a serious upgrade, and bicycles are everywhere, including the Bubi, the popular, public bike-sharing scheme.

Budapest’s municipal assembly supported the bid in a vote on June 23rd, and the government gave its approval July 6th. The official declaration of intention to bid was sent the next day. The deadline for submitting bids to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is September 15. Boston, Hamburg, Paris and Rome have also announced their intentions to bid for the 2024 Games. A decision on the host country will be made in Lima, Peru in 2017.

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