Critical week ahead for Budapest 2024 as youth group nears referendum target
Momentum Mozgalom, a youth organisation in Hungary, is closing in on the 138,000 signatures it requires to force a referendum that could ultimately kill Budapest's bid to stage the 2024 Olympic Games.
The group's 'NOlimpia' campaign has been running since 19 January and, by Friday, had collected just over 110,000 signatures with one week still to go.
Momentum Mozgalom, which has received the support of some minor political parties in Hungary, said it wants to collect around 170,000 signatures to provide a comfortable buffer in case some of them are deemed invalid by the electoral commission.
Budapest 2024 even delayed the international launch of its bid on 3 February while the process is ongoing.
If Momentum Mozgalom reaches its target, a referendum is likely to take place in June, after the International Olympic Committee evaluation commission's 10 to 12 May visit to Budapest.
The result of that referendum is unlikely to make good reading for Budapest 2024 or the IOC, with a new poll conducted by Závecz Research for index.hu showing that 52 per cent of Budapest residents surveyed oppose the bid and plan to vote in a referendum. Only 20 per cent support the bid and plan to vote, while 12 per cent do not intend to vote.
In September 2016, only 32 per cent opposed hosting the Olympics.
Budapest 2024 continues to insist its bid to host the Olympic Games enjoys strong support from across Hungary. It recently cited a nationwide public opinion poll conducted by Kód Kft, which claimed that 63 per cent of the adult population in Hungary support the Olympics bid, up from 51 per cent six months earlier.
Last year, a Hungarian journalist lost her battle to enforce a referendum, while Budapest's city council also rejected a proposal led by the Socialist Party, along with two minor parties, for a vote on the 2024 bid.
Budapest is considered the rank outsider to Los Angeles and Paris in the battle to stage the 2024 Olympics, with the IOC due to select the host city on 13 September.