BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The Budapest city assembly will vote Wednesday on a motion to withdraw the city's bid to host the 2024 Olympics.
Mayor Istvan Tarlos, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and Zsolt Borkai, the head of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, agreed late Wednesday on the withdrawal after it became clear the project would have to face a city-wide referendum initiated by the Momentum Movement, a new political group.
"In cities where referendums were held, with the sole exception of the Winter Games in Vancouver, Olympics were never held," Tarlos said Friday. "The extraordinary assembly ... will likely take place before noon Wednesday."
The Hungarian Olympic Committee will officially notify the International Olympic Committee of the result of the assembly vote most likely next week, bid organizers said.
"Our 120-year-old dream of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games remains alive," bid chairman Balasz Furjes said. "Our model offered a vision for change, especially relevant for those mid-sized cities that dare to bid for the games. We continue to believe in the model and we hope to have the chance one day to prove the case."
The IOC, which confirmed it had been informed of the intention to withdraw the bid, said it was disappointed by the decision and praised the Budapest bid.
"The candidature committee had presented an excellent project, which has built on the reforms contained in Olympic Agenda 2020," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in a statement. "It also demonstrated that smaller cities and smaller countries can stage the Olympic Games in a feasible and sustainable way."
The IOC said it would discuss changes to the candidature procedure, "as the current procedure produces too many losers."
Hamburg, in 2015, and Rome last year also withdrew their bids.
The Hungarian government, which decided on the withdrawal even though election officials have yet to officially sign off on the referendum, blamed the opposition parties, most of which earlier backed the Olympic project, of "dismantling national unity."
Speaking on state radio, Orban branded the Momentum Movement as "dream-killers," saying they initiated the referendum for their own political gain.
The new group, formed a year ago, said the government needed to prioritize issues like health care and education.
"The risks are so big that they simply cannot be taken, considering how huge the corruption problem is in the country," Momentum board member Anna Orosz said. "Very few other countries have been able to host profitable Olympics. Most of them made a loss."
Los Angeles and Paris are the remaining bidders. The IOC will decide on the host in September.