A MOB és a MPB stratégiai partnere

Ars poetica

Why the Statue of Liberty?

Zsigmond Kisfaludi Stróbl’s Statue of Liberty is contradiction personified. Kisfaludi’s statue is continuity personified. And as such it is full of self-contradiction, yet at the same time - as a monumental work of sculpture stretched out over the city - it is capable of communicating, representing and symbolising Budapest and the Hungarian people. This nation of contradictions, so full of desire to be free, is capable of creating continuity, if necessary by arching through different political regimes in order to bring the great work of the Olympics into existence. Because the Statue of Liberty is also the embodiment of continuity through regimes. Kisfaludi’s statue has been accusingly brought into connotation with Horthyism. It has been insinuated that it is a Soviet-Communist symbol, because it was created by personal order of Marshal Voroshilov, the General who occupied Budapest in the Spring of 1945. During the first months of the 3rd Hungarian Republic, Tamás Szentjóby consecrated it as the statue of “The Soul of Liberty” during a performance lasting for several days, when he veiled the female figure holding up a palm leaf with the help of a helicopter and by doing so ritually cleansed the original monument from any negative historical connotations. Since the summer of 1989 the Statue of Liberty has been looking down on Budapest exactly in the same way as through the previous forty-odd years. Day after day a million Budapest residents lift their eyes to see it, and tens of thousands of tourists visit it. It has passed the test. It has blended in with history. Like the figure of Jesus standing with his hands outstretched against the sky horizon of Rio de Janeiro, Budapest is guarded by this mysterious figure of a woman representing the grandest ideal of all, the idea of liberty, in all her controversy. Be it flapped by the winds, beaten by the rain, even cursed from the political right and left at the same time, over the lifetime of a generation it has day by day consolidated itself as the symbol of continuity and liberty over everything else.

(by Iván Bojár)



When on 6 July, 2005 the President of IOC (International Olympic Committee), Jacques Rogge announced in Singapore that the 2012 Olympic Games would be held in London, the British delegates sitting in the hushed ballroom reacted ecstatically. “This was a special moment, which will be remembered by London and the whole country forever" - said Prime Minister Blair. “It is the most fantastic opportunity to do everything we've ever dreamed of in British sport" - said twice Olympic champion and London Bid Chairman, Lord Coe. Lord Livingstone, the Mayor of London added: “We will show the world what London and Great Britain can do". A crowd of tens of thousands of people were rejoicing in Trafalgar Square. Royal Airforce planes were flying over London and painted the sky with Olympic colours. These were rare moments of national joy.

The occasion of selecting a host city for the 2012 Olympic Games made it timely to seriously consider the long cherished idea of the Budapest Olympic Games and to take dynamic steps to realize it. The Budapest Olympics Movement is an umbrella organisation for formidable stakeholders who share the belief that Hungary - backed by a civil initiative, inspired by true national unity and with the involvement of key decision-makers - will be a suitable candidate to organise the Olympic Games, and that Budapest should bid to host the next summer Olympic and Paralympic Games (2020) after London. The Movement is convinced that hosting the Olympics serves the long-term interests of both Budapest and Hungary, and will have benefits for our future.

1. The aims and impact of the Budapest Olympics

1.1 The role of the Olympic Games

At the beginning of the 21st century the Olympic Games, as an international competition of nations, represents not only a sports event or a contest between athletes, but also a competition of creative force and intelligence. The Olympic Games proclaims a nation’s strength and pride. All candidates aspiring to become the host nation have to pass the test of national unity, acumen for sports diplomacy and political intellect before the eyes of the world. Right from the preparatory tender phase, cities and nations pit their teams against each other, first to win the title of bidding city, then for winning the right to host the Games in a subsequent second round.

Being bestowed the right to organise the Olympics is a unique privilege. In the 110-year-long history of modern Olympic Games no more than 22* cities were ever chosen to host the Summer Olympics. The city which wins the right to host the Games stays in the limelight for seven wonderful years. As it makes preparations for the Olympics, day after day it can showcase its imagination, innovative skills, architectural and construction know-how and ability to mobilise. At the final stage, when Olympic competitions actually take place, the whole country is taking a test in organisational skills and willingness to sacrifice. Success (or failure) in staging the Olympics attracts worldwide attention. A nation is glorified and wins long-lasting renown abroad alongside national esteem at home.

In recent decades, Hungary’s history was not packed with events attracting international attention or meriting the lasting esteem of the international community. In the 20th century, the Golden Team of Hungarian football (with Ferenc Puskás, who continues to be the most well-known Hungarian overseas even now after several decades), the days of the 1956 Revolution and perhaps Hungary of the 1980s as a reform country could be listed here. Our reputation has somewhat faded by now and has been for the most part forgotten. We are no longer seen as a role model, either in sports, politics or economics. This greyness has become a self-propagating process, more and more becoming the norm and a matter of habit, to the extent that it started to make its mark on the way we think as a nation. Hungary needs to be re-defined in our own eyes and in the eyes of the world at large. This is where hosting the Olympics would present a once-in-a-lifetime chance for making a breakthrough. A grand endeavour by Hungarian spirit, economy and sports prowess – if we do our job well –, the Olympics will set Hungary on a totally new and positive course of development and will throw it into the international spotlight once more.

Becoming Olympic organisers brings not only advantages but is also fraught with risks, of course.

1.2 The benefits of being a host country

• we will witness a qualitative leap: modern sports facilities, new roads, hotels and residential districts will arise, infrastructure will be revamped and Hungary’s capital will develop like never before since it turned into a metropolis at the end of the 19th century. Accelerated infrastructural development will speed up the process of bringing the country up to scratch in terms of hitting European standards.
• as 40% of infrastructural developments constitute national development projects (developing the public road and railway network), towns and cities outside the capital will also go through significant development. A faster growing system of motorways helps underdeveloped regions of the country catch up faster.
• additional investments will be made at the locations of sports events to be held outside Budapest.
• developments with Olympic connotations boost confidence in the host country and so attract even more inward foreign investments.
• as an Olympic host city, Budapest will become the economic, financial and cultural hub of the region.
• investments made under the umbrella of the Olympic Project could lead to more effective utilisation of the country’s resources, thanks to which GDP growth could increase by 0.1-0.2% in the years of preparation.
• investments made under the umbrella of the Olympic Project boost employment.
• 1.2 million international tourist visits are to be expected during the Games. Its connection with the Olympics will boost awareness about the host country, which will have a long-term positive effect on tourism even beyond the duration of the Games.
• it opens up a window of opportunity for exceptional country image campaigns. Thousands of journalists and visitors come to the city, who, having a positive experience, spread our good reputation all around the world. Gradually intensifying media attention through the preparatory years provides the country with continuous media exposure to the outside world.
• significant impact on Human Resources: soft skills; building up international experience and reputation – the process of organising a huge project educates a generation of skilled professionals who are able to negotiate at an international level and build relationship capital.
• positive social impact; creates possibilities for demonstrating unique national unity. Regardless of political affiliation, we will all be proud of Budapest, of our national effort and of our Olympic Games. Organising the Olympics will once again bring Hungarians together, like it happened at the time of political transformation, our accession to NATO and to the EU - but this time permanently, for the long term.
• psychological aspect: Hungary will prove to the outside world, but most importantly to itself, that it can dream big, and that it can turn its dream into reality: this kind of positive thinking can bring about a paradigm shift, which will propel the country and the nation to an exponentially higher growth trajectory for decades ahead.
• an old dream will become reality: for the time of competitions the world’s largest sporting event will take up home in Budapest and will become realistically accessible to sport loving social groups who know all about sport. An entire generation can find themselves shining role models through direct experience.

1.3 Risks associated with being a host country
• a greater than anticipated slow-down of Hungary’s economic growth could have destabilising consequences during certain stages of preparations for the Olympic Games.
• due to the unforeseeable, long-term consequences of the world economic crisis, fast paced investments could put relatively more strain on the central government budget, as a consequence of which even bigger cuts might become necessary in other public services.
• once started, investments must be finished, and if it turns out that costs were underestimated, the Olympic Games could confine the country to a forced track, which could take even more resources out of the public finance system.
• inefficient project management and resulting delays in the completion of construction projects could significantly drive up construction costs, if we take into account the need to speed things up to compensate for the delays.
• a lower level of EU funding or more reluctant private capital involvement could jeopardize the implementation of background infrastructure projects.
• as the largest global event, the Olympics may attract international terrorism.
• poor planning of the post-event utilisation of facilities and the construction of superfluous facilities could be a burden on future generations in view of the maintenance costs involved.
• it is theoretically possible that not enough visitors attend the Olympic events. In this case, lost revenues are compounded by loss of prestige.
• without effective PR work, it is not possible to win the broad support of the population and the business sector of a historically sceptical and pessimistic nation 
• if certain developments go wrong, social tensions could arise.
• the Olympic construction projects, then the Olympic events could cause an upheaval in the normal life of the capital (transport, etc.).

2. The economic and political reality of the Budapest Olympics


BOM has initiated and financed the drawing up of the Olympic Act in preparation of the 2011 bid as well as the designation of the potential venues of the Olympic Games. The draft is scheduled to be enacted by the parliament with a 5 party consensus.

By its decision of 28th June 2007 the Metropolitan General Assembly expressed its intention to actively participate in the drafting of the Olympic Act recommended by BOM. Within this compass, the Municipality of Budapest, the Metropolitan Bureau of Architecture, the professionally competent departments and BOM Association as well as its professional partner, the Siegler law office (Weil, Gotschal & Manges LLP) have held discussions.

After more than half a year of preparation work, on 18 December 2008 the Metropolitan General Assembly made its decision on the Olympic Act and potential Olympic venues.

The draft of the Olympic Act in its present form provides for the establishment of the Bid Preparation Committee and for the designation of an action plan.

Bid Preparation Committee (BPC) 
The members of PEB's board of directors are nominated by the elected chairman of BPC, the Hungarian Olympic Committee, the Hungarian Paralympic Committee, the Capital and the government, as well as the persons elected by the Parliament. The rights and responsibilities of the Bid Preparation Committee are to promote the preparation of Budapest for the application and bidding to organize the Games, including raising funds for the bid. The Bid Preparation Committee prepares a presentation on the feasibility of organizing the Olympic Games in Hungary so that the Hungarian government, the municipalities of the affected cities, towns or villages, and the Hungarian Olympic Committee can make a solid decision concerning Budapest's bid for the Games. 
Action Plan
The most important tasks are to designate the venues of the Games, to verify bans on alteration, site establishment and building concerning locations owned by the central and local governments, as well as ensuring the pre-emption right of the government for privately owned venues. One of the statements of the draft bill declares that for matters concerning "Budapest 2020" the provisions of Act 53 of 2006 on the acceleration and simplification of investments of national economic significance are to be applied. 
The draft also contains the amendment of some existing acts. Thus Act 126 of 1996 on the appropriation of a certain part of the personal income tax by the tax payer shall be amended by including the Bid Preparation Committee among the beneficiaries.
If in 2011 Budapest submits its bid for organizing the Games, the Bid Preparation Committee shall continue to work as Bid Committee, and completes the Olympic bid. If in 2011 Budapest does not submit its bid for the right of organizing the Games, the Bid Preparation Committee shall be wound up and the Olympic Act shall be repealed.

2.2 Selection of Venues


The aims of the Budapest Olympics and the city development objectives are in harmony
The Olympic Games can serve as an organizational incentive, thus accelerating the development processes, which aim at redressing infrastructural arrears of the capital. When examining the venues the Committee took two sets of criteria into consideration. From the Olympics' point of view it was the fact that the venues make the organization of the Games possible and ensure that they are performed smoothly. At the same time, from the aspect of posterior utilization and long-term development, the Committee had to find locations that will not necessitate further, unnecessary investments later. These should be locations where invested funds will not only be recovered, but also result in the valorization of the area and its surroundings.

Developments along the River Danube in focus
The present concept and proposal for the impoundment and development of the venues concerned are targeted at organizing the Olympics along the World Heritage islands of the River Danube. This means that the River Danube should be the axis of the venues and touristic services from Hajógyári Island throughout the city centre to the northern tip of Csepel Island. The concept includes the utilization of the surrounding areas, so the development zone would also cover further locations in the area between Zugló and Kőbánya.

Tender documentation also lists some venues outside Budapest. Qualifying football matches could be held in Debrecen, Győr, Székesfehérvár and Szeged, equestrian and archery competitions in Gödöllő, and sailing competitions in Balatonfüred.

2.3 Political and social will

2.3.1 The position of decision-makers

The time frame of making preparations for and hosting the Hungarian Olympics will encompass at least four Parliamentary cycles, including the current one, therefore having an all-party consensus within Parliament is vital right from the very start. The requirement of a consensus from the very start also includes the Budapest Municipality.

Within the framework of previous initiatives, in July 2001 the Hungarian government adopted its decision about hosting the Summer Olympic Games in 2012. This Government Decree set out a direct action plan (make feasibility study, set up Bid Preparation Committee). At its August 2001 session, the Metropolitan General Assembly announced its position regarding the government’s initiative in a several-point resolution. In a nutshell: they can support the government’s plan if, on the one hand, a well-founded bid is ready and available for submission, one that does not carry any risk of prestige loss; and if, on the other hand, sufficient central budgetary resources so vital for undertaking the necessary developments are timely made available to Budapest and its region and secured by adequate contractual guarantees as well as underpinned by Parliament-level decisions, as is needed to substantiate a bid submission.

On 29 April, 2003 Youth and Sports Minister, György Jánosi, said during a session of the Hungarian Parliament that he would like Hungary to be able to host an Olympics in the foreseeable future, but does not find it realistic to happen in 2012. Later he went on to say that pursuant to the government’s decision, an inter-ministerial coordination committee would be set up in order to examine when after 2012 the country and the Hungarian capital would be ready to host an Olympics without placing an unduly heavy and unsustainable burden on its citizens and on the state budget.

We may therefore conclude that mostly there is positive political will seen so far, yet there are also reservations on several points. As a next step, it will be necessary to develop and represent a clear common platform with the involvement of all parliamentary parties and all stakeholders, including the government of Hungary, the municipality of Budapest, the Hungarian Olympic Committee and the Hungarian Paralympic Committee, still before the 2010 parliamentary elections. The Movement considers making this happen as one of its main objectives. After that the issue of the Hungarian Olympics must be kept well clear from the election debate all along. The Olympics cannot be allowed to be used as a political campaign tool or to become the cause of a single political group; it must stay a strictly common initiative.

2.3.2 The position of public opinion

Having broad support from the general public is of paramount importance both to guide the actions of Hungarian decision-makers and for the IOC’s decision criteria. Managing public relations from the earliest stages and throughout is absolutely vital. Accordingly, the very first step must be for initiators to inform the general public. As part of this, a full account of every possible effect that holding the Olympics could have must be given, so that the general public can form an informed opinion in full knowledge of every relevant information, and rally up behind the idea of a Hungarian Olympics.

Nearly 70% of the British public support the idea of the London Olympics, 20% of respondents are undecided and 12% are against. 70% is a minimum acceptable rate of support (among other candidate cities Moscow had 77%, Paris 85% and Madrid 91% public support behind its cause - resource: IOC), but for the time being the idea of the Budapest Olympics has not yet got the same level of support. A survey carried out by Gallup Institute in February 2002 measured 66%, but then this level of support was tangibly squeezed under the influence of the political quarrels that followed. If those concerned do their work thoroughly, then there is a real chance that the necessary level of support could be reached again. Previous experience suggests that it has a decisively positive influence on convincing the Hungarian public when such an initiative comes from the non-government sector.

Thanks to BOM’s dedicated work so far, during the past three years, 15 founding companies, 100 well-known private founders, 8 gold, 7 silver and 5 bronze-level sponsors, 6 professional supporters, 50 media supporters, 25 other sports and private organizations as well as 34,000 supporting members have joined the movement. According to the latest public opinion poll conducted to the commission of the movement (in February 2007), 77% of the Hungarian population supports the Olympic bid for 2020.

2.3.3 The position of the private sector (competitive sector)

Private capital must also play its part in organising the Hungarian Olympics. 20 years after transition to a free market economy, the competitive sector is now the engine driving the Hungarian economy. Having gone through a phase of dynamic development, the Hungarian private sector has stepped out into the international arena and in some sectors has taken on a multinational character. A stratum of influential business owners has evolved, who think in international dimensions and who are fully aware of what advantages the Hungarian Olympics could bring to aid their ambitions to expansion. It is therefore highly likely that for this very reason they would be willing to make sacrifices during the implementation of the Olympic Games and to put their influence to the service of the Olympic cause. The Budapest Olympics Movement is committed to give full scope also to business owners who take an interest in the Olympics and who wish to have a vested interest in it.

3. The chances of winning the Olympic bid

3.1 The question of management

The outstanding management skills played a vital part in London coming out on top in a very close competition for winning the bid for hosting the 2012 Olympic Games. During their visit to London, members of the IOC committee appointed to assess the readiness of various candidate cities were invited by Queen Elisabeth II for luncheon, and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, spent two days in Singapore when the decision was being made and he conducted face-to-face talks with many of IOC’s decision-makers. But these were only the finishing touches. It was common belief that London could win because twice Olympic champion Lord Coe was appointed to chair the London Olympic Bid Committee. In Coe’s person a well-known and respected sports figure stood at the helm of the movement, who incidentally also had outstanding organisational skills and who used his wide connections with diplomatic finesse to take London’s cause to victory in the face of Paris, a city believed to have had better chances of winning. Budapest will no doubt find it more difficult to find a personality to be the face of its bid. Selecting someone who is internationally known and recognised, speaks languages, has the right connections and good organisational skills, and who also enjoys the unreserved support of the Hungarian public, will have a decisive impact on making the Hungarian Olympics a success, if we go by London’s example. And we also need a team: in the short time available we must purposefully strive to gather sports professionals on board who can negotiate at an international level, who can build relationships and who have an ambition to work for the Olympics and will support the front-runner.


3.2 The IOC’s likely position

Hungary was among IOC’s founding members in 1894, and it has always competed in the Games ever since 1896. With an array of 160 gold medals, Hungary is an esteemed member of the Olympic Family, despite the fact that it is the only one of the ten countries leading the Olympic championship table that has never had the opportunity to stage the Olympic Games; even though it has come close to it several times. In 1896, when the first Modern Age Olympic event was held, similarly to 2004, news started to emerge from the Greek capital that they will not be ready on time, and so Hungary offered to host the Olympics instead. Baron Coubertin did in fact seriously look into this possibility, but in the end Athens agreed to do it. Then we competed for the 1916 Olympic Games, which never took place. We were denied to host the 1920 Olympic Games, as a country who lost World War I. It may have been forgotten by now, but we did in fact bid to host the 1936 and 1944 Olympic Games, but the latter had to be cancelled because of the war. Then we bid for the 1960 Olympics, but came only in fourth place.

The Movement firmly believes that towards the end of the first quarter of the 21st century Hungary has every potential to be an Olympic organiser, and there is a chance that we might win the first ever Summer Olympic Games to be held in Central Europe. Jacques Rogge’s recent visit to Budapest has confirmed this belief. “You Hungarians are fully capable of organising the Olympics. Do have confidence to submit a bid, and remember that a candidate city and country can win even with submissions that do not make it in the end."

PwC’s analysis also confirms that Budapest has a good chance to get through the first phase, and to go on as an official candidate city. Budapest is an ideal host city in every way. One must emphasise the role of the River Danube, and not just in the life of Budapest as a city. The Danube, as a river flowing through several countries and connecting their capital cities, could be the Olympic motto: The Danube Olympic Games. It is a must to turn the Hungarian capital’s picturesque location to our advantage, and to “sell” sporting venues, the Olympic Village and the Media Village as features seamlessly integrated with this environment. By exploiting this momentum of situation which Budapest clearly has, we could compensate for any potential weaknesses of the bid. We must make it emphatic, that the Budapest Olympics is at the same time the Olympics of the region itself. In other words, there is no doubt that its halo will cast a beam of light over the whole of Central Europe. Hungary’s geographic position, it’s relations within the region and it’s ambition to become a regional hub - all point in this direction.

The IOC’s key principle also works in our favour, namely that the scale and cost of the Olympic Games must be kept under control, to make sure that hosting does not become the privilege of only the largest and wealthiest of cities. Within this framework, sooner or later it must be the turn of the Central and Eastern European region. It would be great if we were the first one to be chosen in the region, otherwise we would end up with a major competitive disadvantage. Prague was the first Central European country to submit a bid for the 2016 Olympic Games, and in 2020 it will bid again. It would be no surprise if Warsaw also came out with a bid by that time.*

We will have to start making actual preparations for the 2020 contest without delay, once the 2010 elections are over. And that’s because the candidature for 2020 will be assessed as early as in 2011. The example of Paris with Singapore proves that not even the best of bids can guarantee success. This is why we cannot say with absolute certainty that the right to host the 2020 or the 2024 Olympic Games will go to Budapest. All we can say is that we have a real chance already now, and even if we did not succeed, our bid would have an even better chance to win next time. We must not see it as a failure if we do not win the first time round: we must learn first and win second.

4. The Movement’s role

Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy, well known for his commitment to the Olympic ideals, has taken it upon himself to coordinate the Budapest Olympics Movement. Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy, Chairman of the Budapest Stock Exchange, former pentathlete, Vice President of the Hungarian Fencing Federation, honorary member of the Presidency of the Hungarian Pentathlon Federation, a member of HOC (and inter alia the great-great-grandson of Dr. Albert Berzeviczy, the founding President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, which is celebrating its 110th Anniversary in October this year): “Until now I have visited four summer Olympics. Athens convinced me that even a small country can be capable of hosting an event of this magnitude. Greece’s economic indicators were no better in 1998 than ours are today, and yet it was able to stage a wonderful Olympics after 8 years of preparations. We have at least 11 years ahead of us."

“The government should focus on sorting out public finances and getting economic growth up to speed; Budapest should continue to renovate roads and to develop public transportation, HOC must do everything it can to come clean of the shameful doping scandal of Hungarian athletes in Athens; and we civilians must try to find those influential people who might have a vested interest in this matter. At the end of the day, these are the dots that we should join up.” (Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy)

It is vital that we reach a social, professional, public administrative and political consensus about this, as it is the only way to turn the Olympic dream into reality. But above all, the non-governmental propagators of initiatives must include the representatives of every profession, party affiliation and world view, because the Olympics needs everyone’s support. It is a truly national cause. The Budapest Olympic Movement is an expressly non-political organisation, founded by natural and legal persons, whose objectives include promoting the ideal of the Budapest Olympics, its acceptance by society and decision-makers as well as participation and encouraging participation in the organisation process. The members of the Movement carry out their work free of charge as volunteers of the Olympic spirit.

The Movement became publicly known at the end of November 2005.