The Olympics are an excellent outlet for Hungary to show its prowess during peacetime, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán explained in an interview with sports daily Nemzeti Sport. At the start of the Tokyo games, the Hungarian Prime Minister expected three gold medals in fencing, two in swimming, four in kayak and canoe, one in sailing, two in shooting, and one in wrestling. While certain athletes in these categories may not have made it that far, Orbán emphasized that all Hungarians participating at the Olympics deserve praise, since they are one with the nation.
Orbán told Nemzeti Sport that Kristóf Milák met his expectation for winning gold, but he still stood up for Katinka Hosszú after she performed below expectations, since “once a champion always a champion.” There are not many people for whom Hungary’s national anthem has been played at an Olympics, and they all deserve respect, he explained.
Hungary’s Olympic Success Communicates Strength
Orbán expected three gold medals in fencing, from Áron Szilágyi’s individual sabre and the Hungarian team’s sabre, as well as in epée. Ultimately, Szilágyi was the only one who won gold, but Hungary had podium finishes in all three categories.
While he thought the women’s canoe kayakers would win three gold medals and expected Bálint Kopasz’s 1000-meter kayaking victory, Sándor Tótka’s gold medal in men’s kayak single 200 meters came as a surprise. The water polo and pentathlon results, the Prime Minister said, are always extremely difficult to foretell.
Orbán distinguished the Olympics as an excellent outlet for nations to compare their talents and strengths during peacetime. The Games are unique because their competitors completely adjust their lives and careers to take part.
Science, sports and culture are the fields in which the competitive instincts of nations come to the fore in peacetime. In every nation there is a conviction that they represent something unique that no other nation represents, and that is embodied most spectacularly in champions, in winners.”
Hungarian Olympians as Idols of Virtue
Orbán also brought up that while in Rio women won seven of Hungary’s eight gold medals, in Tokyo five of Hungary’s six gold medals were won by men. He related the topic of gender in sports to the position of men in today’s modern society.
The Prime Minister believes that while the female ideal has always been strong, in the modern era, male virtues, such as “physical strength, the mental and physical strength that is necessary for showing responsibility, for caring for one’s family,” are not respected. Orbán believes the Hungarian men who participated at the Olympics are “not only champions, but also male idols.”
This is a man’s physical appearance, this is a man’s mental strength, this is how he fights, this is how he loves his family, and this is how he sacrifices, if needs be, ten years of his life for a cause. The Hungarians who won now did a great service to our country, and perhaps with their help we might be able to bring the male ideal back to Hungarian life.”
Orbán Speaks on Hungary’s Plans in Sporting
Orbán believes the breadth of Hungary’s success at this year’s Olympics in multiple sports speaks volumes and is a good sign for the future. He added that while Hungary must maintain its position in the sports it has traditionally dominated, there is also space for new additions, such as sailing and cycling.
The Hungarian Prime Minister also addressed sporting in education, saying that once Hungary’s university system has been completely modernized, there will be an encouragement on both amateur and competitive sporting through grants and extra funding.
Orbán believes Hungary’s 2017 opportunity to submit a bid to host the Olympics was lost due to a lack of national unity. The Prime Minister stated that there were political reasons as well, referring to Momentum’s initiation of a referendum on the subject. He also believes that “It’s evident that if we had had the chance to host the Olympics, they would have been held similarly to the European Championship, in front of full houses, open, without problems,” adding that
Hosting the Olympics is an eternal dream for the Hungarians. A love that never ends. The necessary capabilities, a love for sports, the importance of sports, national sentiment, economic strength, culture, are all there, and will remain there. Therefore, although we may not live to see it, there will be an Olympiad in Hungary.”
You can read the full interview here.
Featured photo illustration via Viktor Orbán’s Facebook page