Viktor Orbán in Rio

Back in 2001 Viktor Orbán paid a visit to the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland to express his ardent desire to host the 2012 Olympics. As we know, that didn’t pan out. I was certain that once he was back as prime minister of Hungary he would make another stab at putting Budapest on the Olympic map. And indeed, shortly after he took office in 2010, talk of hosting the Olympic Games in 2024 began to surface in the media. Soon enough billions of forints were sunk into preliminary studies of its feasibility. I was certain that these studies would prove that holding the games would not be costly, that in fact they would bring money to the country. Such obstacles as not having a decent four-lane highway connecting the Ferenc Liszt International Airport to downtown Budapest was swept aside by optimistic talk about projected infrastructure investment that would be undertaken regardless of whether Budapest wins the bid to host the Olympics.

From the start warning voices called attention to the extremely high cost of hosting the Games and pointed out the relative poverty of the country. Given the state of Hungarian healthcare and education, and the fact that one-third of Hungarians live under the poverty line, they argued that government money, which is in short supply, should be spent elsewhere. Moreover, the actual cost of holding a large sporting event usually runs about double the original estimate. But the Orbán government as usual refused to listen to those who brought up weighty arguments against a Budapest Olympics and went ahead with the plans. At this point some of the forces that oppose this madness tried to hold a referendum on the issue, but the government made sure that never happened.

Viktor Orbán, as we know, has attended every FIFA World Cup game for the last umpteen years, but as far as I can ascertain he has not been an avid follower of the Olympics. He attended only the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when, like now, he was lobbying for the 2012 Olympic Games.

If we can believe Origo, an internet site that has been leaning toward the government lately, Hungary’s proposal was very well received. Orbán’s argument for awarding the bid to Budapest is bizarre. The prime minister intimated that at present Budapest is so much behind times that practically everything will have to be built in the next few years and therefore “truly twenty-first-century circumstances would welcome the fans.” Although it might sound frightening to the inhabitants of the city, Orbán indicated that “according to plans the whole capital will function as a huge Olympic park and the Olympic games would be a large sports festival.”

Viktor Orbán receives an Olympic torch as a gift from Thomas Bach, president of ICO

Viktor Orbán receives an Olympic torch as a gift from Thomas Bach, president of ICO

Orbán delivered a speech in the Hungarian House built in Rio for the occasion where, as usual, he said a few rather curious things. What struck me first was that Orbán praised only those who received gold medals. As if a silver or a bronze was worth nothing. And, he bragged, although Hungarians constitute only 0.2% of the world population they beat the world eight times over. “Eight times we proved to be the best on this Earth out of seven billion people.” Now that’s strange math. In a list I saw of the countries with the most medals per person Hungary was tenth in Rio after Grenada, Bahamas, Jamaica, New Zealand, Denmark, Croatia, Slovenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.

Hungary, he continued, is among the top ten nations in the history of the Olympics and the only country among them that hasn’t been able to hold the Games. Therefore, “we deserve the Olympic Games to be held in Budapest,” or as some newspapers put it, “we are entitled to it.” Just as Hungary is entitled to all the money it receives from Western European taxpayers.

Another comment Orbán made to a journalist of Blikk that raised some eyebrows was that “something is wrong with us, Hungarian men. I don’t know what, but it is time for some soul-searching.” I bet that all those men who didn’t manage to get a gold medal will be thrilled to hear that something is wrong with them.

Finally, we learned that Orbán discovered an Olympic event very much to his liking: “I find pentathlon an undeservedly neglected sport although this is the father of all sports. I think that we could prepare our children best for adult life through the pentathlon.” Why the sudden enthusiasm for this very tasking event where competitors must demonstrate their skills in five different sports: pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, horseback riding, and running? I don’t know, but we’ll see whether more money will be allocated from here on to preparing Hungarians for this event. After all, it all depends on the prime minister.

While Orbán was furiously lobbying in Rio, Publicus Intézet conducted a survey about Hungarians’ attitude toward holding the Olympic Games of 2024 in Budapest. Not much of a surprise. Seventy-five percent of the people think that “the country is simply too poor to host the Olympic Games.” But more about this tomorrow.

August 22, 2016
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webber
Guest

I believe Fiji may have the most gold medals per capita for this Olympics. Just one gold medal, but a population of just 828,000.

LwiiH
Guest

No doubt Hungarians did very. That said this calculation is very narrowly focused as it doesn’t take into account team sports nor the Winter Olympics nor that in a number of countries Olympic sports are not the focus.

LwiiH
Guest

The galley misses venues that were never finished such as the velodrome near Chania. That event had to be moved to another location.

webber
Guest

Ozymandias – “‘Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.’ Nothing beside remains. Round the decay of that colossal wreck…”
Images of the decaying remains of the Athens’ Olympics here – Hungarians beware!
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/gallery/2014/aug/13/abandoned-athens-olympic-2004-venues-10-years-on-in-pictures

Guest

You know the ‘Games’ have inherently lost their meaning from their ancient inception which was one of creating ‘unity’ within ‘city-states’. Participation in itself was enough. Today in this century far from Olympia the Games have become sort of presenting a competitive nationalism linked with gaining riches and a quest for business ad sponsorship that drives the ‘Games’. VO and Fidesz in combo with Olympics? The only ‘arany’ Magyarorszag perhaps will see is in the coffers of robbers who see a bank vault with the locks hacked off. Many ‘Mr. Dillingers’ will have a field day with easy picken’s.

Observer
Guest
Thanks Eva, This post touches many aspects of this absurd regime. Not only his argument, but Orban himself is a bizarre occurrence, a bumpkin , IT illiterate dictator with 1930s ideas and 1970s Communist methods smack in the computerized, technocratic 21st century. A failed soccer player wannabe, who hasn’t done a day’s work, but in politics, with a sole manic fixation on power and money. After years of Orban and Tarlos bragging about the supposed development of Budapest (and other cities right now), suddenly “.. Budapest is so much behind times that practically ” it doesn’t have anything of modern standards. Talking about brazen liars. The Orban’s ideas should ” … sound frightening to the inhabitants of the city”. While “the whole capital will function as a huge Olympic park”, perhaps Orban will watch from the balcony on Buda Hill the city burning … sorry, functioning as a fairy tale park and play the fiddle, if he could. On a serious note, the swimming world championship, which was given to Hungary by default, is several times over budget so far, and may finally costs as much as ten times the original estimate. In view of this alone, no sane mind… Read more »
Jean P.
Guest

On the Olympics in Rio: ” . . the last thing Brazil needs is the billion-dollar cost overrun from the Olympics. In Rio, the money is being taken from health and social services, resulting in social unrest – the general population think the Olympics are a bad idea and Rio de Janeiro has had to implement a state of financial emergency to fund them.”

http://www.oxfordtoday.ox.ac.uk/interviews/human-and-economic-cost-rio-2016s-16bn-overrun

Ron
Guest
“Seventy-five percent of the people think that “the country is simply too poor to host the Olympic Games.” It is not only that. When the “new” sports law came into effect club could charge other clubs (within the same sport) for compensation for training. Mind you this is between clubs. and is within the EU law. Some soccer and basketball clubs (I do not know about other sports) introduced “modest charges” for kids (from 9 years to 20 years) changing clubs in early 2015. Mind you this was no obligation, but some clubs could do this. This year clubs with Academy status (like Puskas Academy) could charge from July 1, 2016 (soccer) and June 23, 2016 these applicable modest charger times 10 , in case over certain age 5 times. And these Academies are doing this, no matter how talented, or how many times these kids trained per week. Just because they were enrolled with the Academy. The problems is that clubs can do this, but the receiving clubs cannot or will not pay for it. Therefore, the parents need to pay for this. When it was modest it was okay, some did. But now the charges are too high:… Read more »
Guest

Re: ‘Sporting will be only for the elite’

I am not sure what AFA is but that cost added shows that those prices are tough to crack unless a family has the wherewithal to shell out money for a future that is not exactly a ‘slam dunk’. I have seen video resumes from players of sports club wishing to play soccer here. I have to figure they come from very high income families who can pay their freight away from home. They would seem to be the the ‘lucky’ ones to test their mettle if they want to go pro. And in reality the odds are against them.

Ron
Guest

AFA is VAT=Value Added Tax, which is currently 27% of the sales prices or costs charged on. Companies, and organizations with VAT number can deduct the amount. Clients, and in this case parents in general not.

And yes sport is becoming something for the elite. Btw Puszkas came from a very poor background, it is tragic that his name is abused by the elite as a brand.

Guest

Thanks for filling in on AFA. And Puskas. Perhaps if his and his team’s qualities could be passed on to some in politics. Perhaps it could be a counterweight to the seemingly slide into the morass.

Guest

And you shouldn’t forget that Puskás was a Schwab – born as Franz Purczeld.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferenc_Pusk%C3%A1s

Why his father changed the family name in 1937 – any ideas?

Guest

Thanks for that. It must have been apparent to Puskas Sr’s mind as to certain decisions that needed to be made regarding identity during those heady days within the geographical melting pot he and his family found themselves in.. That time was a time of choices that had to be made by all in Europe.

Ron
Guest

Okay, Apparently, this thing I described above about changing clubs is serious. I notice that people are starting to wake-up, among others on Facebook.

http://valasz.hu/sport/milliokert-igazolhatnak-at-gyereksportolok-egy-szulo-dobbenetes-levele-120151

The above mentioned article is in Hungarian, but you understand the point even with Google translation.

Guest

From the above parents would certainly get a cautionary tale on the intersection of the call of sports participation with the goals of Magyar youth. It appears that the sport hierarchies in the country have found a great revenue producer and at the same time exposing them and their families to a tyranny of a sort of indentured sport servitude. Must be a thing with ‘chains’ going all around the country.

Ron
Guest

Unfortunately, it is not only football and basketball, also water-polo is effected. I did not hear or see anything regarding handball yet.

But it is not only about the players. There is also some kind of carousel for trainers, whereby experienced trainers are replaced by inexperienced (less than 1 year of experience) trainers.

Some “professional” clubs have only 1 so-called szak-edzo, (professional) and the rest amateur trainers (not even gym teachers level). The club referred to in the article has a website 1 szak-edzo and the rest.

http://www.kaszasok.hu/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=30

Guest
Re: sport and players, youth, parents, trainers, coaches, managers, academys and all institutions who have a finger in the pie called ‘sports’ competition You know I believe one country had a handle on this and that was Germany when it took a look at its professional football program. A time of being ‘also-rans’ in major competition apparently had them get together at the highest levels to see what the cause was and how to get the country back to the highest echelon of achievement in the sport. Apparently it worked because Germany won a World Cup after that. I thought it was incredible since there had to be a tremendous amount of cooperation between groups who obviously had to be all on the same sports page. The leadership must have been impeccable. If perhaps Magyar sport is thinking along those lines as they seem to be it might be a good time for them to see how the pieces fit the whole constellation of getting achievement as they pursue glory and silverware. Thing is a switch here can’t be flipped and zingo they have an aranycsapat. It’s understood that cash is needed to be spent on a sport program but… Read more »
Joe Simon
Guest

In an all-time medal table Hungary ranks 11th among the nations of the world. Remarkable for a small country with little resources.

petofi
Guest

“…with little resources…” and absolutely no intellectual pursuits of any merit.

Istvan
Guest

None the less it is amazing, especially when one looks at the Olympics collapse of Romania.

Guest

What I would suggest is also ‘amazing’ is the fact that as Magyar athletes are working hard in trying to push themselves each and every day toward an achievement of their goal it appears they have a government which would seem to betraying everything they are doing each and every day. They seem to going in different directions. One group cannot know the outcome of its preparation prior to competition. They slog on with dogged determination where they know there is no ‘gimme’. They work hard to try to be one of the best. As for others in their competitve efforts they play with a very stacked deck and the cards are always always in order. They arguably simply ‘pay’ to win. And they will certainly bask in another’s hard won limelight and exult in the spoils. The small country should ask as much or more from their government as they do of their athletes.

petofi
Guest

You’re such a shmuck: perhaps Romania is investing its resources to help the average citizen of the country by improving schools and hospitals…

webber
Guest

Petofi, I would appreciate it if you gave your arguments against other people’s views without the personal insults.

FreeWheeling
Guest

Yes, looking in the rear view mirror doesn’t work for navigating the future and means nothing about the suitability for Budapest to host a summer Olympics without bankrupting itself like Montréal or Athens.

From the sporting events that they have been most consistent and competitive in, swimming and water polo, outsiders would surmise that Hungary has supported it well enough to host an World Aquatics championship . But it doesn’t as it likes football the best! Furthermore what they are building for next year is WAY over budget. Not exactly the way to impress the more sober-minded and non-corrupt IOC members. However, I give the Budapest bid a chance because there seem to be so many corrupt IOC members looking for some lucre and the current leadership certainly has had a lot of experience in this exercise over the past six years.

FreeWheeling
Guest
Ocsi
Guest

“Another comment Orbán made to a journalist of Blikk that raised some eyebrows was that “something is wrong with us, Hungarian men. I don’t know what, but it is time for some soul-searching.” I bet that all those men who didn’t manage to get a gold medal will be thrilled to hear that something is wrong with them.”

This comment by Orbán sounds very sexist to me. Instead of congratulating the women gold medal winners he criticizes the men. Because we all know, if men were at the top of the game, they would bring home more medals than women. Offensive nonsense!

Guest

Btw -not only Hungary could be proud …
Slovenia and Croatia both have more medals per population, and even Lithuania is close to Hungary in this respect.

http://www.portfolio.hu/en/economy/hungarys_olympic_performance_portfolio_analysis.31725.html

webber
Guest

OT – Schopflin’s pig idea has now been covered by The Washington Times, The Independent, Israel National News, Reuters, and on and on and on.
Bayer’s award has also been widely covered – can’t be bothered to look at all the places.

Shame on the Hungarian government.

gergő
Guest

Bayer is a the level of your run-of-the-mill Breitbart commenter,

It is one thing that he is a foul-mouthed, racist, mean person, why should he get any decoration for his disgusting, hideous activities?

The obvious answer is that this is the level well-liked and promoted by Fidesz.

Schöpflin is a disgrace too.

web tasarım
Guest

GO HUNGARY! Hungarian PM Viktor Orban Speaks The Truth That The Rest of Europe Is Afraid…… … bit.l + İlave olarak Refugees 'look like an army', says Hungarian PM Viktor Orban…

PALIKA
Guest

Budapest Olympics? Yet another good reason for not living in Budapest, if we need to add some.

Pentathlon is indeed a demanding test of skills and endurance. Until recently it was a sport in which Hungary excelled.

Why does OV like it? It was a sport for the the armed forces I guess. Having access to facilities such as horses and guns and the time to train would require huge personal wealth and resources unless someone else can provide it as part of day to day living in service.

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