Budapest: The chances of Hungary to host the 2024 Olympic games have seriously diminished due to a domestic anti-Olympic petition, according to Budapest's bidding committee for the 2024 Games.
On Friday, opponents of the bid presented officials over 266,151 signatures seeking a referendum, almost double of the 138,000 needed, Xinhua news agency reported.
"Over the last couple of weeks, a common national goal has become a dispute between political parties. The common political will to support the Hungarian Olympic games does not exist anymore, and without unbroken political and community unity, Budapest has no chance of competing against Paris and Los Angeles, who are among the biggest and richest cities of the world," the Budapest 2024 bid committee said in statement on Saturday.
The committee also said that they would suspend all further work and payments relevant to the 2024 Olympic games until the leadership of the city of Budapest and the Hungarian government comes to an agreement on how to proceed in the lights of the recent events.
On Friday, the Mayor of Budapest, Istvan Tarlos, told journalists that he was considering to withdraw officially from the bid, as early as the middle of next week.
"The opposition parties have said the same thing about the hosting of the Olympic games for 13 years, and now suddenly, since the last one or two months, they say the contrary," Tarlos complained in an interview on Hungarian national television M1.
The mayor also told he met Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and they have agreed to discuss the current events, both at the City Hall and within the government until next Wednesday, then they would meet again to decide about the "ethical and practical" steps that needed to be made.
Finally, Tarlos made clear that he still believed that Budapest would benefit from the Olympic games, but that he also "acknowledges the will of the people," and underlined that "266,000 signatures meant a lot".
According to recent polls, the majority of the citizens of Budapest do not want their city to host the 2024 summer Olympic Games.
It is clear that if a referendum would be held, the voters would reject the hosting of the Olympics.