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Ambition to Make Budapest a Sports Capital

Dénes Sályi 2019.09.24.

Budapest has come close to hosting the Olympic Games throughout its history twice. Once in 1920, when the Hungarian capital should have hosted the Games according to the original decision; however, due to the lost war, the victorious powers finally gave the right to organize the events to the city of Amsterdam. Budapest bid for the 2024 Olympics in 2013, but as a result of an anti-Olympic campaign initiated by the new political movement Momentum, and signed by relatively many people in a short time, the city withdrew its bid in 2017.

The Orbán government doesn’t seem to forget the idea for ever though. The upcoming Olympics will be held in Paris in 2024 and in Los Angeles in 2028, yet to win the opportunity for 2032 is still open to Budapest. Whether or not the city will make the bid again, there are other ways of long-term utilizations of those sports facilities that have been or are being built for the Games. The Hungarian capital may become one of the most suitable places for sporting events in Europe- capable of hosting European and World Championships in many kinds of sports.

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A final rehearsal of such ambitions was manifested by holding the 2017 World Aquatics Championship in Budapest, which was a real success logistically. The next occasion will be the European Men’s Handball Championship hosted by Hungary and Slovakia together in 2022, for which a new stadium will be built next to Népliget (People’s Park). Not far from this, on the Danube Bend, an athletic stadium will be constructed and inaugurated for the 2023 World Athletic Championship. In terms of sports facilities, Budapest is ranked favourably among European cities, so even if the Olympics are not held here, the capital will easily be able to host almost any prestigious sports events in the future.

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What is crucially important about all this is how the sports facilities can serve the overall development of the metropolitan area. The new projects to be built, as well as the ones accomplished are meant to create a better environment for the citizens living here, with a special regard to reconstructing rundown quarters in order to improve quality of life. According to information from the government, in Northern-Csepel, new sports investments will be carried out, in a neglected part of Közvágóhíd, the athletic stadium is to be erected and south of it a Student City will be established. In addition, the (future) Fifth Metro Line is planned to connect the South-Pest suburban railway lines to downtown. Most of the European Union financial sources for Budapest will be spent on this project, also making these sports facilities easily accessible to fans. No decision has been made so far about the reconstruction of Népliget, including sports grounds there. Hopefully, a positive final verdict will soon be realized since this huge area is a great reservoir of relaxation for future generations of Budapest residents and tourists as well.

In the featured photo: the yet-in-the-making Puskás Arena. Photo via Puskás Arena’s Facebook page