The right and the left on Hungarian achievements in London

I managed to avoid commenting on the Olympics for two solid weeks, but perhaps on the last day I ought to say something about the games in general, the Hungarians’ performance in particular, and the political sparring between left and right over the Olympics and its significance.

A couple of decades ago I was an avid follower of Olympic events but eventually I became disillusioned. I wasn’t sure any longer about the rationale of it all. I’m sure that Baron Pierre de Coubertin would be greatly surprised if he could see what happened to his original idea. It is becoming clear that individual achievement often fades in favor of national glory. It is considered to be practically a tragedy if a long favored “national” sport is lost to others.

I also worry about those people who spend ten or twelve hours a day doing whatever they must be doing. Personally, I would prefer spending money on encouraging healthful exercise in moderation for as many people as possible as opposed to giving it to clubs training athletes who devote their young lives to competing at international meets.

Anyway, here are the statistics. Hungary is in fourteenth place with eight gold, four silver, and five bronze medals. That is a much better result than even the most optimistic fans predicted. It is especially good when we consider that the populations of the first thirteen countries are much larger than Hungary’s.

So, let’s move over to the political aspects of this year’s Olympic games. The “war” between the Hungarian right and left broke out on the fifth day of the games. Right after Dániel Gyurta won the gold medal and set a new world record in the 200 meter breaststroke.

It all began with an article by Endre Aczél published in his sixteen-part series entitled “My Olympics.” Aczél is a veteran  journalist who for many years worked as a foreign correspondent for MTI, the Hungarian news agency, first in Beijing and later in the 1980s in London. He also worked for MTV and regularly writes for Népszabadság. He is quite knowledgeable about sports and has a radio program on Klubrádió on sports events of bygone years.

Endre Aczél on August 2, on his fifth day of reporting his impressions, made a remark about Dániel Gyurta’s 200m breaststroke victory. He had predicted that Gyurta would do very well in the 200m after seeing him perform in the 100m breaststroke, which is not the swimmer’s forte. However, Aczél was “rightly” worried about Michael Jamieson. He reminded his readers that Gyurta normally swims in the middle of the pack in the first 100, moves up at 150, and in the last 50 meters becomes unbeatable. This time the “choreography” was not followed. Jamieson in the last 20 meters performed the way Gyurta normally does. Aczél added, “if there had been another ten meters to swim Jamieson most likely would have won.” But, he added, “thank God it was only 200 meters and not 210.”

That remark sent the Hungarian nationalists into a frenzy even though the Associated Press, a presumably neutral source, appeared to concur with Aczél’s analysis in its report on the final seconds of that 200m competition: “Making the final turn, Gyurta seemed to be in control. Then, as he popped up and down in the water, heading for home, Gyurta suddenly felt Jamieson surging up on his right shoulder. The Olympics Aquatics Centre was in a frenzy as the two approached the wall, but Gyurta stretched out first and touched in 2 minutes, 7.28 seconds. That shaved 0.03 off the previous mark set by Christian Sprenger of Australia at the 2009 world championships in a now-banned bodysuit. Jamieson nearly broke the old mark, too, settling for silver in 2:07.43, while Ryo Tateishi of Japan took bronze in 2:08.29.”

In any case, it seems that one cannot make an objective observation about a swimming meet without being accused of not being a good enough Hungarian patriot. The right-wing media was suddenly full of critical articles about Endre Aczél.

Soon enough he had a co-traitor, Zsolt Gréczy, a close ally of Ferenc Gyurcsány, who on his blog criticized Attila Czene, a  former Olympic champion who is now a member of the Orbán government. He is undersecretary in the Ministry of Human Resources responsible for sports. In 1996 in Atlanta Czene unexpectedly received the gold medal in the 400m individual medley. In London, Czene was apparently sitting next to the commentator and kept making political comments on the side. For example, “the Orbán government made sure that athletes were prepared to be the very best.” Gréczy in my opinion rightly pointed out that when a Hungarian swimmer didn’t do well in Munich or in Montreal was it because the Kádár government didn’t give enough money to the swim clubs? Or did Czene have the Horn government to thank for his win in Atlanta? Surely, Czene’s win depended on his own talent. And Gyurta was not thinking about Viktor Orbán in the last few meters (as Czene intimated) but, as he himself admitted, about his mother. A fair criticism.

The Internet and right-wing circles were full of complaints. The first time I heard about the controversy was from an older woman, at least judging from her voice, who decided to share her outrage with the listeners of Klubrádió. By that time I had read Aczél’s article but I didn’t know anything about Gréczy’s blog. The woman made it clear that Hungary is divided into two camps:  “us” and those who are against “us.” Aczél and Gréczy certainly fall into the latter category. While she was at it, she added Klubrádió to the enemy list as well. Finally, she suggested that “if Klubrádió would make peace with us perhaps it could get a frequency.” How telling and how true.

The third controversy around Gyurta was an interview he gave to Magyar Rádió in which he declared: “I dedicate this gold medal to all my 15 million compatriots!” A right-wing English blog edited in Budapest considered Gyurta’s comment “a very nice dedication.” So did Gábor Vona, who was sending a message to those who cannot be truly happy (actually fanyalgók) .  He cried when Gyurta won the gold. What he did in London was fantastic “but what he said afterward on Magyar Rádió surpassed the gold medal. … Today a superstar was born.” Thus his nationalistic remark about the 15 million Hungarians was more important than his gold medal. There were a few who corrected the number because the truth is that the figure is closer to 13 million. But what can one expect from poor Gyurta who hears this magic 15 million day in and day out?

Finally, an opinion piece appeared in the so-called moderate right-wing magazine Heti Válasz by Bálint Ablonczy. The message of “Dániel Gyurta is a hero: Old-fashioned and ours” is that in our modern world there are no heroes. The media world turns us into nihilists. However, there is a desire to have heroes again and therefore there is “Gyurta fever” in Hungary today. Here is a young man who talks about “the simplest concepts in the whole world: hard work, effort, success, responsibility, coaches, family, and nation.” Ablonczy continues: “we wouldn’t be living in a world without heroes if  the skeptics, the attackers, the political rubberneckers, the ones who talk disparagingly about the 15 million wouldn’t be sending spume up to the surface from the morass of the Internet and the op/ed pages of the great papers.”

Yes, one could live without the Olympics very well. At least in my opinion.

57 comments

  1. “Attila Czene, a former Olympic champion who is now a member of the Orbán government… is [the] undersecretary in the Ministry of Human Resources responsible for sports. ”

    This is really a very interestingly sounding ministry with an even more interestingly sounding department for which this guy is an undersecretary. What are they doing and who would miss them if they disappeared?

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  2. For the last two weeks, I have been eternally grateful to, a) be 1,000 miles away from the Dianafest-style Olympic mania which has gripped my poor, deluded fellow-Brits, and b) not to have access to a TV.

    Two things alone which should tell you that the ‘Olympic ideal’ is well and truly dead: the appalling PR-speak phrase ‘Team GB’, and the ridiculous parade of the torch (or, in fact, many torches) which preceded the games – a propaganda tool invented by the Nazis!

    Not to mention the way the whole thing has become owned by the multi-nationals. My daughter’s class is spending a day at the Paralympics on her return to school, and the other day we were sent a long list of dos and don’t for the day. Amongst these was the advice that we weren’t to provide our children with food to take into the stadium as they wouldn’t be allowed to take any food OR DRINK in with them (they would be in the stadium for 4 hours). The reason? Health and safety, perhaps? No – the answer is that the only food and drink allowed in the stadium is that purchased from the sponsors’ stalls and shops.

    Bread and circuses – except that you have to pay for the bread and it comes wrapped round a Big Mac.

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  3. Actually Paul, the reality here over the last 2 weeks has been rather different to what you’ve put forward here (though the food & drink situation is certainly outrageous). There has been a nice positive buzz around London, people have got behind the GB team in a supportive but not jingoistic way and the athletes have done us proud.
    What it shows is that if you find what someone is good at, nurture and support them properly, they will excel and the benefit goes beyond the individual. Its a very simple message that the Camerons, Millibands and Cleggs should take heed of. And everything has worked, because people have been positive in making the games a success. And there is a sense of pride at the moment that the games have been a success.
    For all our problems, the UK ain’t so bad – there is still a sense of decency and fair play here and enough people still willing to take the country forward in a positive way (though not many of these people can be found in Parliament.
    Contrasts rather dramatically with the state of Hungary.

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  4. I confess to being an Olympic buff and watching quite a bit of it. Seeing Gyurta’s refusal to lose; Cseh’s great last 10 meters for the Bronze; and Risztov’s heroic last 200 meters….was
    special.

    Luckily, I was alone when I found myself yelling at the top of my lungs:

    “MATOLCSY ES AZ EGY KULCSOS ADO!!!”

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  5. Eva, from your post I understand that one of the eight gold medallists has shown enthusiasm for the nationalist cause – but if it is just one, I find it worth noting that the others did not find it necessary to do the same. Well done.

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  6. Kirsten :

    Eva, from your post I understand that one of the eight gold medallists has shown enthusiasm for the nationalist cause – but if it is just one, I find it worth noting that the others did not find it necessary to do the same. Well done.

    Or if they did whatever they said wasn’t recorded.

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  7. Olympics not supposed to be about politics (except in North Korea where an Olympic Gold means the difference between labour camp or free and rich living), so congratulations to the nationalists and to the far right to turning this event in to an other item that can polarize Hungarians. You go Kover! You go Orban! You go Vona!
    p.s.: I do not think two years is enough to train for Olympics.

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  8. Paul, ” food and drink” is a security issue. For example it is easier to band drinks and taking out all bottles from bags at security check points than making all attendees drink a little from their bottles. It is natural and happening all over the world in stadiums. In the United States you can’t take food and drink in for an NBA game either. Also there are museums where they allow you to take your water bottle, but you need to drink a little from the bottle in front of the security guard.

    I would be happy to see this in your dauthter’s case . This is for her safety.

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  9. I don’t think anyone should read too much into Gyurta’s comment (unless he has a history in making them). It doesn’t mean he subscribes to Vona’s Turanism, anti-semitism, anti-Roma, Iran-loving paranoia. It just means he cares about those who live beyond the borders, and counts those who have Hungarian ancestry, and identify as Hungarian can share in his gold. Hungarian nationalism is generally ridiculous: and I know it is normally couched in terms of being concerned with those Hungarians beyond the border, but a lot of well-meaning Hungarians also identify with them as well. It doesn’t mean they buy into all the clap-trap that goes along with it, from those who want to exploit the Hungarians outside Hungary (Kövér springs to mind, even more than Vona). I wish RMDSZ would start a party, like some of them were musing, for the Hungarian election: I think a lot of non-Romanian based Hungarians would vote for a non-Socialist, non-Fidesz party which doesn’t have a history of saying stupid things (Jobbik, LMP).

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  10. Louis Kovach :
    Thank you Gyurta and all the others also!

    You can’t stay sane for long, can you Louis?

    Gyurta demeaned his accomplishment by becoming a willing pawn of nationalists and Fidesz. They’ll no doubt trot him out relentlessly now. May even send him to Romania with Kover! (Gyurta is off my hero’s list.)

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  11. Dubious :
    I don’t think anyone should read too much into Gyurta’s comment (unless he has a history in making them). It doesn’t mean he subscribes to Vona’s Turanism, anti-semitism, anti-Roma, Iran-loving paranoia. … a lot of well-meaning Hungarians also identify with them as well. It doesn’t mean they buy into all the clap-trap that goes along with it.

    That sounds reasonable but in the specific Hungarian circumstances where people can be “expelled” from the nation very quickly (by Fidesz and the like and their followers) for perceived anti-Hungarian thinking, the consequences of sharing this feeling are grave. For me this is one of the stumbling blocs. Criticise Turanism, anti-semitism etc., and you can be connected with those people who also wanted Hungary to be reduced to this small area and to 10 million inhabitants – which goes against broadly shared national feelings. So, you can be asked, abstain from any comment if you do not want to harm the nation (with apathy or retreat as its logical consequence). Fidesz owns the ultimate knockout argument.

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  12. Give me strength!!! I can’t say I’m surprised that this blog is only interested in the Olympics from the perspective of its own pathological obsession of dividing everything in Hungary into left and right, but it is sad none the less. It is also rather extraordinary that you have chosen not to mention what else Gyurta did, which has brought him international respect. After winning, he offered his gold medal to the family of the Norwegian breast-stroker, a friend and competitor who might well have beaten him, but who died unexpectedly before the games from a rare undiagnosed heart ailment. Gyurta is the toast of Norway for this gesture. And if he feels his victory means something to ethnic Hungarians outside Hungary, then that is his business.

    I think it was the poster M Reidl who made a disparaging remark the other saying what a “Hungarian” post an entry was, in the very negative sense of promoting this division of everything in Hungary into left and right, good and bad. And he is spot on. It is a profoundly Hungarian disease that is bringing ruin to all areas of Hungarian life. When I first found this blog, I was delighted because of its acute analysis of the Orbán regime, which disturbs me as much as it does Eva Balogh. But day after day, week after week, month after month, this blog churns out the same message and has totally failed to locate anything remotely positive about any action or motivation of anyone on the other side of this imaginary divide, while being breathtakingly credulous when it comes to the integrity of anyone “our side”. This is the only blog in Christendom that has suggested Hagyó Miklós was set up! But it isn’t this blog, this madness permeates Hungarian society. Last week, Eva mentioned ATV and in particular, a discussion programme (újságíróklub) which we were told is an intelligent analysis of the week’s events. Well, yes, in a way it is. But this programme has been on for at least ten years and each week, the same three people, with pretty much identical political views, chew the same bone. There are no dissenting opinions. If you switch on HirTV, or EchoTV, you find exactly the same thing: “experts” of a single political colour (different from ATV) chanting out their views in total agreement. There is no debate in Hungarian life, just tribal rituals. Kálmán Olga has really very few government members on her show (surprising as they are the ones pulling the levers and need to be brought to account) and ATV boycotts Jobbik entirely, which considering it was democratically elected is something I find hard to justify (and I don’t believe Vona would survive Kálmán Olga). And it isn’t just the news. I’ve even heard Hungarians talk about Fidesz and MSZP hospitals!

    There was a post the other day mocking the Hungarian attraction to tribalism. Without any sense of irony or the pot calling the kettle black. Hungary is being ruined by this tribalistic attitude to life, it is stultifying public debate and it doesn’t do this blog many favours either.

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  13. To Kingfisher:

    (1) If it causes you such pain to read this blog, stop reading it.

    (2) As far as Hagyó is concerned. From the original talk about billions of forints Hagyó allegedly stole and received in cash in a Nokia box he was only charged of breach of fiduciary responsibility. And we all know what that means. Not much. Hagyó started off as #1 accused but interestingly enough the chief culprit now seems to be Attila Antall, former CEO of BKV who according to the prosecutors caused 926 billion forint damage to the company. Hagyó is only charged with breach of fiduciary responsibility only in connection with a 169 million forint damage. It is also somewhat worrisome that this case was sent to be tried in Kecskemét where the judge to whom the case is assigned is known to be sympathetic to the government.

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  14. Paul :
    For the last two weeks, I have been eternally grateful to, a) be 1,000 miles away from the Dianafest-style Olympic mania which has gripped my poor, deluded fellow-Brits, and b) not to have access to a TV.

    I think you have a been harsh there Paul- the opening ceremony on its own was a masterpiece. A nation which is self-confident enough in its own place in the world to provide and, more importantly, enjoy such an ironic and occasionally even self-depreciating (sp?) opinion of itself is a rarity.

    Can you imagine an equivalent taking place in Orbanistan?
    The Magyar equivalent of Danny Boyle would probably have been executed for treason.

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  15. Eva S. Balogh :

    I’m sure that Baron Pierre de Coubertin would be greatly surprised if he could see what happened to his original idea.

    I’m not so sure, in regard to what follows in your note. Even though in the early years the bellicist fraction of French nationalists used to mock his ideas, Coubertin was actually a nationalist. And though not a fascist per se, he was admired by fascist regimes… and occasionally returned the favor, particularly in his closing speech at the 1936 Games.

    The Olympics have always been about peacefully competing nations. Of course the experience and the motives of the athletes and trainers may be different, but the Games are anchored in the organisation of sports federations, which operate everywhere on a strictly national basis.

    Hence, as a social event, the Olympics always have a political side. Some people may dedicate their victory to a unified concept of ethno-linguistic traits, while others may glorify the diversity of origins… but it’s always bordered by the concept of Nation as demos.

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  16. @oneill: “A nation which is self-confident enough in its own place in the world to provide and, more importantly, enjoy such an ironic and occasionally even self-depreciating (sp?) opinion of itself is a rarity.”

    Occasional self-depreciating opinion? In the opening ceremony? I have totally missed that. I have found it a bit self-celebratory… which is OK, I guess, as these ceremonies supposed to be like that.

    And yes,I am happy I did not have to see the Orbanistan version… would have been lot more painfully nationalistic, without a touch of humor, no doubt.

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  17. Kingfisher :
    Give me strength!!! I can’t say I’m surprised that this blog is only interested in the Olympics from the perspective of its own pathological obsession of dividing everything in Hungary into left and right, but it is sad none the less.

    Although I am more with the idea of Dubious and Kirsten of not reading to much into anyone’s “thank you” notes, I find it frivolous that you attack Eva for talking about the Hungarian divide, then in the next paragraph lou start to analyze Eva’s politicalview on her political blog. Yes, this blog is a political blog. By the way it was not Eva, contrary how you try to portray it, who made political statement about Gyurta, they were the right wing journalists, who did not left out a beat to grab onto a bone with no meat on it.
    Eva choose to go after the right wing’s opportunism of creating an other divide. After reading your post it seems that the right wing succeeded.
    The Hungarian way that Eva tries to point to (rightly so) can be summed up by two posts:
    latefor: “Congratulations to all the Hungarian medal winners, well done Hungary!”
    Kovach: “Thank you Gyurta and all the others also!”
    You can draw your own conclusion from that as a regular reader of this blog and its comments. This is the HUngarian problem Kingfsher, and you missed your chance to speak up when you choose to shoot the messenger.

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  18. Semi OT: My personal take on the Olympics is a very disillusioned one. I love the healthy competition aspect of the games, but i always hated the “winning for any price” part. Western countries were always very willing to expedite the citizenship applications of any promising athletes from any countries who were willing to come on board and run in their colors (and that is not only for the Olympics). The “prizes” given to those who win, and the prize to be paid by those in some countries is very sad. The abuse of the Olympics by the judges and referees are well publicized, while the non-sportsman like attitude of some players are also in the headlines. At the end most of it comes down to dollars and cents or to middle finger to one nation to another (I am talking about the larger not the individual perspective). There are some wonderful exceptions to this rule but when I am looking at the big picture this is mostly what I see.
    There are so much money is being pumped into this, while many other “exhibitionism” lacks the money (I am talking about art). How many people in Hungary for example watch a soccer game lately? Still a stadium will be in “Karikoszorcsog” (Hungarian expression), when Hungarian cinema lacks the money. (This is same for many other countries, but this is a blog about Hungary). What is the difference?

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  19. In my opinion, the Olympics is a great spectacle where one has the opportunity to see several, rare, great efforts such as that of Eva Krisztov.

    There are negatives, too. The Jamaican runners are ready to hold forth at the end of a strenuous 100meters. How so? Others
    are gasping for breath. Personally, I very much doubt that a small country like Jamaica could produce, not one but several, better runners than a country 100 times its size and hundreds of millions of dollars more in support. Sorry, Hussain, but you’ll be found out and your mocking efforts will seem all the worse.

    But wasn’t it great to see the American 4 x 100 runners try
    desperately to win? Or the Spanish basketball team come so close to beating the best players in the world?

    Where else but in the Olympics would one see such great effort, and tremendous accomplishments, jam-packed into a two week
    period?

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  20. This morning on the front page of Népszava there is the headline: Hungary is #9 in the Olympic standing. wow! How can that be? I went back to the NBC site where I found that Hungary was #14 and no, the standing didn’t change since yesterday afternoon. Hungary is still #14.

    Then I counted only the gold medals and counting this way Hungary is not #9 but #8 after the US, China, Great Britain, Russia, South Korea, Germany and Italy. I am by now confused. How do they count standing in Hungary?

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  21. Petofi – Jamaica doesn’t spend much on sport – if you look at the situation, Jamaica only excels with sprinters really and in the 4 x 100 it was Bolt and Blake who really made the difference. Carter and Frater are good runners, but at best, only could equal their US counterparts. So we aren’t talking about 4 supermen here. And as for the suggestion of drug taking, Bolt and Blake, because of their status, are frequently tested. So I think you’ll find they are clean.

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  22. An – I think the opening ceremony was a good celebation of Britishness, warts and all. And it did highlight that for a relatively small nation, we have frequently punched above our weight over the centuries and been pretty influential too. Not all of what we have done has been good of course, but I think GB normally knocks itself. The tone of the ceremony was spot on really.

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  23. Eva S. Balogh :
    This morning on the front page of Népszava there is the headline: Hungary is #9 in the Olympic standing. wow! How can that be? I went back to the NBC site where I found that Hungary was #14 and no, the standing didn’t change since yesterday afternoon. Hungary is still #14.
    Then I counted only the gold medals and counting this way Hungary is not #9 but #8 after the US, China, Great Britain, Russia, South Korea, Germany and Italy. I am by now confused. How do they count standing in Hungary?

    They count by whatever system suits their purposes, of course.
    Had it been 1 gold and 15 bronzes, the yell would’ve gone up
    about the number of medals Hungary won–and who cares of what type.

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  24. johnt :
    Petofi – Jamaica doesn’t spend much on sport – if you look at the situation, Jamaica only excels with sprinters really and in the 4 x 100 it was Bolt and Blake who really made the difference. Carter and Frater are good runners, but at best, only could equal their US counterparts. So we aren’t talking about 4 supermen here. And as for the suggestion of drug taking, Bolt and Blake, because of their status, are frequently tested. So I think you’ll find they are clean.

    Sorry, but frequent testing doesn’t necessarily mean they are clean; only that their type of intake has not been detected, yet.
    Same with the little Chinese girl who swims faster than men.

    The drugs are a few years ahead of the development of methods to detect them. Of course, money rules–that’s made on the drug side and not in detection.

    Case in point is Lance Armstrong. A lot of American riders have pointed the finger at him yet he’s never failed a test.

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  25. London Calling!

    Firstly Hungary are Eighth in the medal tables due to their ‘gold’ count. Only America puts them in the order of total number of medals, especially when China have more golds! (Ok I jest – America have always counted them this way – but the Official Olympic Committees – and other countries, put them in order of golds.)

    Eighth is an amazing position for a country of 9.7m people and a tiny GDP. And yes it is due to individual effort.

    For Orban (after two years?), or anybody, to take credit for individual endeavour is cynicism in the extreme and should be ignored.

    You have done amazingly well, Hungary so celebrate.

    To the English, the fact that you have come above Australia (pop 22.4m) is particularly delicious!

    Regards

    Charlie

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  26. CharlieH :

    London Calling!

    Firstly Hungary are Eighth in the medal tables due to their ‘gold’ count. Only America puts them in the order of total number of medals, especially when China have more golds!

    Sorry, but the US has 46 gold while China only 38. Very soon I will know all this by heart because I keep looking at the standings to come up with #9 but it doesn’t seem to work. It is either #8 or #14.

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  27. London Calling!

    Yes Eva – but for a long while the US were trailing China in the gold count and sought refuge in the fact that they had more medals overall.

    The BBC thought they were doing this just because they were behind China – so they checked back several years. And came back with the revelation that they were being consistent!

    The ‘Official’ grading as recommended by the IOC – is ‘Gold’ numbers only.

    This should really suit the USA mentality – because winning is the only thing. Only losers come second is their mantra!

    Regards

    Charlie

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  28. CharlieH: “This should really suit the USA mentality – because winning is the only thing. Only losers come second is their mantra!”

    I wouldn’t generalize. I, for example, only watched a couple of women soccer games and some of the closing ceremony. I enjoyed Eric Idle, always like Monty Python’s.

    I couldn’t care less about what country is where in the medal count.

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  29. Petrovics: “You can’t stay sane for long, can you Louis?

    Gyurta demeaned his accomplishment by becoming a willing pawn of nationalists and Fidesz. They’ll no doubt trot him out relentlessly now. May even send him to Romania with Kover! (Gyurta is off my hero’s list.)”
    I think Gyurta is a fine human being besides being a Hungarian. What are your accomplishments compared to Gyurta’s from a humanistic standpoint? At least, if you don’t look at Gyurta as a Hungarianl, look at him as a human being with his actions after winning the gold!

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  30. Dr Balogh: “This morning on the front page of Népszava there is the headline: Hungary is #9 in the Olympic standing. wow! How can that be? I went back to the NBC site where I found that Hungary was #14 and no, the standing didn’t change since yesterday afternoon. Hungary is still #14.”

    The Nepszava wrong????? Maybe they can’ add….or multiply or divide…

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  31. CharlieH :

    London Calling!

    Yes Eva – but for a long while the US were trailing China in the gold count and sought refuge in the fact that they had more medals overall.

    The BBC thought they were doing this just because they were behind China – so they checked back several years. And came back with the revelation that they were being consistent!

    The ‘Official’ grading as recommended by the IOC – is ‘Gold’ numbers only.

    This should really suit the USA mentality – because winning is the only thing. Only losers come second is their mantra!

    Regards

    Charlie

    But Charlie, my problem is that it doesn’t matter how one counts #9 for Hungary doesn’t work. Here it is, take a look at the figures:

    http://www.nbcolympics.com/medals/2012-standings/index.html

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  32. London Calling!

    Eva – Yes!..I didn’t notice Italy creeping up! Apologies.

    They have the same number of golds but more silvers and bronze.

    With Italy’s population lying somewhere around 61m it contrasts even more impressively that Hungary did so well.

    Regards

    Charlie

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  33. @Paul: “For the last two weeks, I have been eternally grateful a) to be 1,000 miles away from the Dianafest-style Olympic mania which has gripped my poor, deluded fellow-Brits, and b) not to have access to a TV.”

    Well… from a thousand miles away, it may all be deplorable. Here, on the spot, it’s been grand fun.

    I like being deluded.

    Remember Mr Edwards, the admirer of Dr Johnson? Boswell records him as saying, “You are a philosopher, Dr. Johnson. I have tried too in my time to be a philosopher; but, I don’t know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in.” Paul, I think that you may be a philosopher.

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  34. Louis Kovach :
    Petrovics: “You can’t stay sane for long, can you Louis?
    Gyurta demeaned his accomplishment by becoming a willing pawn of nationalists and Fidesz. They’ll no doubt trot him out relentlessly now. May even send him to Romania with Kover! (Gyurta is off my hero’s list.)”
    I think Gyurta is a fine human being besides being a Hungarian. What are your accomplishments compared to Gyurta’s from a humanistic standpoint? At least, if you don’t look at Gyurta as a Hungarianl, look at him as a human being with his actions after winning the gold!

    “If you don’t look at Gyurta as a Hungarian..” –typical of the Hungarian, right-wing logic.
    If you don’t take political advantage of the situation (“..for the fifteen million hungarians”)
    than you can be accused of not looking at Gyurta as a Hungarian! (Can the march into
    Romania and Slovakia to liberate our oppressed brothers be far behind?)

    Caught you with your shorts down, Kovacs.

    Now, about your question about accomplishments…I don’t know what you mean by ‘humanistic accomplishments’. I know of athletic accomplishments; I know of literary accomplishments; I know of intellectual accomplishments (but that’s really too loose a term)
    but ‘humanistic’? Did you mean charitable? Don’t know…

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  35. Petrovics:”Caught you with your shorts down, Kovacs.

    Now, about your question about accomplishments…I don’t know what you mean by ‘humanistic accomplishments’. I know of athletic accomplishments; I know of literary accomplishments; I know of intellectual accomplishments (but that’s really too loose a term)
    but ‘humanistic’? Did you mean charitable? Don’t know…”

    I meant his behavior toward his Norwegian ex-competitor and his family…..

    PS: I had no intention to “moon” you!

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  36. Louis Kovach :
    Petrovics:”Caught you with your shorts down, Kovacs.
    Now, about your question about accomplishments…I don’t know what you mean by ‘humanistic accomplishments’. I know of athletic accomplishments; I know of literary accomplishments; I know of intellectual accomplishments (but that’s really too loose a term)
    but ‘humanistic’? Did you mean charitable? Don’t know…”
    I meant his behavior toward his Norwegian ex-competitor and his family…..
    PS: I had no intention to “moon” you!

    That indeed was a nice gesture but mentioning 15 million was not. Perhaps Mr. Gyurta may find himself competing in Romania in the future, and some government official may ask
    him, sotto voce, whether his statement was not disrespectful to the state of Romania.

    What do you think, Louis? As Minister of the Interior in Romania, would you have liked to have heard Gyurta’s statment?

    And Louis, I haven’t even gotten into the sly nationalist logic you employ…

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  37. Petrovics: “What do you think, Louis? As Minister of the Interior in Romania, would you have liked to have heard Gyurta’s statment?”

    It is very unlikely that I would be Rumania’s Minister of the Interior. But if I were, I would not care. It is far less than Rumanian ministers said and did in regard to Transylvanian Rumanians prior to 1914. Just read Take Jonescu’s memoires.

    PS. Swimmers use earplugs, he wouldn’t hear anuything sotto voce and I doubt that any Rumanian hogh official would try to talk to a Hungarian athlete.

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  38. Louis Kovach :
    Petrovics: “What do you think, Louis? As Minister of the Interior in Romania, would you have liked to have heard Gyurta’s statment?”
    It is very unlikely that I would be Rumania’s Minister of the Interior. But if I were, I would not care. It is far less than Rumanian ministers said and did in regard to Transylvanian Rumanians prior to 1914. Just read Take Jonescu’s memoires.
    PS. Swimmers use earplugs, he wouldn’t hear anuything sotto voce and I doubt that any Rumanian hogh official would try to talk to a Hungarian athlete.

    Trying to reason with you, Louis, is an exercise in futility. Your responses of course, are
    laughable such as the reference to pre-1914 statements. Well, I guess you can take
    a person out of Hungary but you can’t take the Hungarian madness out of him!

    But then, why would a Hungarian of Fidesz stripe have any respect for another country?
    Another sign of a civilized society is respect for Law. Can it be said to exist in Hungary?

    Orban–Well, if the judges rules like that we can fix the problem…we’ll just change the law.

    Budai–So, we engaged in a monopoly. So what? What can you do about it? I’m a minister.

    Two fine fixtures in the Pantheon of Lawless Politicans. Do those two sound as if they believe that ALL are beneath the Law?

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  39. I see some confusion here about the medal count.

    According to the official medal count which ranks countries by gold medal and then by the total, Hungary came in 9th.
    http://www.london2012.com/medals/medal-count/

    According to the ranking based on the total number of medals (as the ranking is compiled in the US media), Hungary came in 14th.
    http://www.nbcolympics.com/medals/2012-standings/index.html.

    Both are pretty impressive for a country of hardly 10 million.

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  40. “Some1 -There are so much money is being pumped into this, while many other “exhibitionism” lacks the money (I am talking about art). How many people in Hungary for example watch a soccer game lately? Still a stadium will be in “Karikoszorcsog” (Hungarian expression), when Hungarian cinema lacks the money. (This is same for many other countries, but this is a blog about Hungary). What is the difference?”

    I guess training Olympic Athletes costs a great deal of money, while other “exhibitionism” such as training actors to perform hypothetical oral sex on stage (The Tragedy of Man, at the National Theater) for example, does not require that much investment.
    Some1 – dearest, I just could not let this one go…ha…ha…ha

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  41. latefor :
    “Some1 -There are so much money is being pumped into this, while many other “exhibitionism” lacks the money (I am talking about art). How many people in Hungary for example watch a soccer game lately? Still a stadium will be in “Karikoszorcsog” (Hungarian expression), when Hungarian cinema lacks the money. (This is same for many other countries, but this is a blog about Hungary). What is the difference?”
    I guess training Olympic Athletes costs a great deal of money, while other “exhibitionism” such as training actors to perform hypothetical oral sex on stage (The Tragedy of Man, at the National Theater) for example, does not require that much investment.
    Some1 – dearest, I just could not let this one go…ha…ha…ha

    hahaha Every art form is exhibitionism, and yes some maybe goes to the extreme, but some athletes also “disappoints”. As nice is to hear that “I did it for my country!” It is a BS in most cases. If people would do it for their country they would not switch back and forth between opportunities. Also, nit everyone receives the same support in sports as others. Some sport gets more money, some sportsman gets more money.
    WHy can’t art receive the same support?
    Here is an other side of the Hungarian Golds (and I am sorry but this interview is in Hungarian.) I wish I would know more about this situation as a bet you anything there is more to this story! http://olimpia.origo.hu/london/kajak-kenu/20120813-itthon-rossz-vagy-ha-valami-nem-sikerul-nem-koltozik.html

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  42. Petrovics: “Trying to reason with you, Louis, is an exercise in futility. Your responses of course, are
    laughable such as the reference to pre-1914 statements. Well, I guess you can take
    a person out of Hungary but you can’t take the Hungarian madness out of him”

    It was that far back when the situtation was the same, a minority lived outside it’s mother countries’ borders. But let mw quote Jonescu: ” It was because I was the first Roumanian Minister to give subsidies, secret sunsidies to Roumanian schools and churches of Transylvania but also to newspapars and political committes.I commissiomed journalists to write class books ostensibly for use in Roumanian schools of Macedonia, and I paid for the work royally. I need hardly explain that the class books were not always written.”

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  43. re: My previous comment to “Some1” – “hypothetical” should be replaced with: imaginary

    Also, I’d like to add to my previous comment the following:
    The Olympics is a legitimate form of expression, satisfies the need of the World community which we are all part of.

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  44. I just came back from Planet Hungary. I attended a big family reunion. Dozens of brothers sisters and cousins. Guess what? One of my nephews was on the Olympics!

    He was cleaning locker rooms. He is a student in Budapest and the money was great. He even took on a second shift! Hungarians are awesome!

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  45. latefor :
    re: My previous comment to “Some1″ – “hypothetical” should be replaced with: imaginary
    Also, I’d like to add to my previous comment the following:
    The Olympics is a legitimate form of expression, satisfies the need of the World community which we are all part of.

    I disagree. Most athletes are exhibitionist in their own right, as much as an artist is. Films in general also “legitimate form of self-expressions”, and Film Festivals also “satisfie the need of World Community which we are all part of”. For that matter I would argue that someone who runs 150 meters (I picked this as I do not mean anything specific) would send out such a message about the problems of the world and the need to “unite” as movies, like Gate of Hell, Slumdog Millionaire, The Bridge, The Official Story, Children of Heaven, and so forth.
    In general most sportsman switches teams, and countries when the the opportunity rises. To say that doing it for the country… I am skeptical. Yes, when they win, it is a proud moment for a country, as much as a Nobel Prize or any other great honour, but do those countries also embrace all of their athletes the same way? No, they don’t, and money flows toward those who are in popular sports. We can argue if trampoline, soccer, synchronized swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, hammer throw, and swimming are valued the same.
    How about the athletes? Do they all live in Hungary? Did they all compete for Hungary all the time? How about the other athletes from other countries? Did they all compete for one country all the time? Olympics is a spectical, just like Circuses, and a great specticle too. I do not mean to belittle anyone’s performance or achievements here, but I question the emphasis. It is a political game (look at the boycotts, look at the rewards or punishments). I have a friend who missed her chance at the Olympics because of the boycott, I have a friend who won a gold, and other who participated without any medals, and a family member who decided to drop out the team because she had enough of the pressure. All different stories, different motivations, but none of them trained for their country, and the one who missed out on the Olympics because of the boycott would of choose to go with or without her country if given the chance.
    As far as theatre goes, with the occasional sexual content,r sexual references or gore.. Madach and Shakespeare were not to shy to describe events in details, and just because someone chooses to literally interpret something that does not make that director immoral, it simply means that it reaches out to a different audience. Maybe you are not part of that audience, and I did find myself in that situation with movies and theatre performances that everyone were crazy for. I have no problem watching simulated or referenced sexual content if it adds to the story (Shame, Last Tango in Paris).

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  46. The Olympic propaganda seems to worked overtime, even posters on here I regarded as immune from this sort of thing seem to have been taken in. If I were Cameron, I’d call a snap election before reality starts to seep back in.

    And, strangely, I find I can be both philosophical and cheerful whilst still thinking the Olympics was just a huge circus, designed a) to keep the plebs happy and b) kid the world that the UK still matters. And, equally strangely, I can still be both philosophical and cheerful, despite having an opinion that differs from the majority. Or has that now become as big a crime in the UK as it in Orbánistan?

    Kingfisher – please don’t stop reading this blog, and please don’t stop criticising it. It is not all the people who agree with us that makes this blog worth reading, it is those few who offer a different view and make us stop and think and question our assumptions.

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  47. Paul – a somewhat ridiculous reply, and a shame as I like a lot of what you post. The Olympic fortnight was great – fact. But do I credit Dave, Nick & Boris – No (though Boris does have his moments). If we have got a feelgood factor, let us enjoy it while we can – its been a difficult year otherwise.

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  48. Kingfisher, in a way you have addressed an important observation: people are not just black and white. I know nothing about Mr Guyrta except from what I read here from Eva and from you. But why could Mr Gyurta not buy into the nationalist ideas of Fidesz AND at the same time dedicate his medal to a colleague? Gyula Horn, who is so criticised by Fidesz to have been in the pufajkasok, had a major role in the opening up of the Iron Curtain. Viktor Orban, who seemed to be a promising liberal politician two decades back, is now working hard to send Hungary back to the Middle Ages, and still will probably be a “husband and father caring for his family, financially and otherwise”. And so forth.

    And although I share the view that Hungarians should find some common ground, it is not possible to find common ground between ANY ideas. In particular when these ideas aspire to represent the only “truth” and exlude the possibility of other valid ideas. The division of Hungarians into “left” and “right” just reflects this very general problem. It needs more respect for other ideas AND an acceptance of a level playing field. Eight gold medals and broadly shared “national joy” will not suffice to solve that, it just may reduce the criticism of Fidesz without implying any bigger cooperation or mutual understanding.

    And back to Gyurta, to dwell on the 15 million Hungarians may be considered a minor issue but what it is frequently connected to is an obstinate adherence to some 19th century ideas. Applied selectively, typically as regards the tragic fate of the Hungarian nation. In many other respects, these people are easily able to use 21th century ideas or even name other nations (as Kovach teaches us) who have also suffered strongly. (To be critical of the role of Hungarians in the past and whether they made other nations suffer is not their strong point.) And I am afraid that the country is held back by the unability to put the own history in perspective – to hold e.g. equality dear nowadays means that liberal pre-1914 Hungary will not look like lost paradise etc. To remind all of the 15 million Hungarians is a minor point, but with important consequences as if often also means a narrow perspective on specific issues about the Hungarian nation.

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