Budapest Olympic bid on last legs as mayor to seek government guidance

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 22, 2017 5:00 AM

By Marton Dunai

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Budapest's mayor is expected to seek government guidance on the future of its bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, according to a council resolution widely seen as paving the way for the city to withdraw its candidacy.

Bidding alongside powerhouses Los Angeles and Paris, Budapest has been considered a long-shot candidate, pinning its hopes on the International Olympic Committee's Agenda 2020 initiative that seeks a return for the event to simpler values and smaller price tags.

After local opponents of the candidacy last week submitted a quarter of a million signatures on a petition for a referendum on the bid, Budapast Mayor Istvan Tarlos suggested the city might quit the race.

But he also rejected responsibility for allowing the bid to fail, saying the issue was a national one.

Under a resolution being put to the City Council and seen by Reuters, Tarlos is expected to be authorized to discuss the bid with Hungary's national government and Olympic committee.

The talks should "clarify whether, as national unity ended, there is any point in sustaining Budapest's candidacy," the planned resolution states.

According to a survey published on Wednesday by pollster Median, half of Hungarians would like Budapest to withdraw the bid, with only a third supporting it nationally.

In Budapest, 56 percent of voters are against the bid, which the poll showed was unlikely to survive a referendum.

With the ruling Fidesz party holding a comfortable majority on Budapest's city council, the resolution is expected to pass on Wednesday.

The document also blames opposition parties for having "significantly weakened" Budapest's chances of hosting the event.

(Reporting by Marton Dunai; editing by John Stonestreet)