Budapest gets further from hosting the Olympic games in 2024

2017-02-17 15:39:29 GMT2017-02-17 23:39:29(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

BUDAPEST, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Momentum Movement officially handed over the signatures necessary for its referendum on blocking the hosting of the 2024 Olympic Games in Budapest, Hungary to the Budapest Election Office on Friday.

According to the law, they had to collect 138,000 signatures (10% of the Budapest voters) to force a vote, but the group of young political activist, aided by opposition parties as well, assembled almost twice as much: 266,151 signatures.

"We have officially handed 266,151 signatures over to the Budapest Election Office," Andras Fekete-Gyor, the leader of Momentum, told reporters.

"We have a message for the Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the Mayor Istvan Tarlos: it was a huge and enormous mistake to forget asking the people of Budapest if they wanted to host the Olympic Games in Hungary," Fekete-Gyor added.

He also called upon Orban and Tarlos not to hinder the process of the referendum, which would be "cowardice".

The campaign of Momentum, named "NOlimpia", was initiated a month ago, based on fear of overspending and corruption. Momentum wants the Hungarian government to spend the money on the Hungarian education and healthcare system.

"If it turns out that the people of Budapest have signed the petition to have a referendum in sufficient numbers, then ... I will have to think strongly about withdrawing our bid," the Mayor told reporters on Friday.

Nevertheless, the deposition of signatures does not mean an automatic referendum. The Budapest Election has now 45 days to verify the validity of the signatures, and then declare the result to the Mayor, who can set a date.

According to recent polls, the majority of the citizens of Budapest do not want their city to host the 2024 summer Olympic Games, and that simple fact is also bringing Hungary further from the organizing the event.

Hungary is among the bidders to host the Games along with Paris and Los Angeles. The International Olympic Committee will select the host in Lima, Peru, on September 13.