Tag Archives: Olympic Games 2024

Viktor Orbán avoids humiliation at the hands of the International Olympic Committee

It may not be official yet, but Budapest’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games is dead. It is only a question of time when the proposal will be formally withdrawn.

The resounding success of the Momentum Movement’s referendum drive is widely interpreted as the first sign of the awakening of a depressingly inactive and uncaring public. The time might be ripe for action if there is a political force that can take advantage of the mood of the country. According to the latest poll, of the 1.5 million undecided potential voters only 300,000 would like to perpetuate Viktor Orbán’s political stranglehold on the country. All in all, the number of people who are dissatisfied with the present government far surpasses the 2.2 million core Fidesz voters even without the 1.2 million undecided voters who, given a viable alternative, would be inclined to vote for an opposition force.

Fidesz politicians themselves indirectly admit that what happened was a political defeat. They talk disparagingly about Momentum’s leaders, who used Viktor Orbán’s Olympic “dream” as a vehicle to fulfill their political ambitions. These unpatriotic youngsters made a political issue out of a “national cause,” they argue. There was once absolute unity on the issue, but oppositional forces drove a wedge between people for political reasons. Or, at least this is the story Viktor Orbán wants Hungarians to believe.

This morning in his Friday interview Viktor Orbán expounded on the topic of the Olympic Games and hinted at the real problem with Budapest’s bid. The telling sentence was his very first on the subject: “Look, the referendum is a Hungarian affair but the Olympic Games must be won abroad in an international race in Switzerland, in Lausanne, before the International Olympic Committee.” Indeed, this is the case. Hungary was supposed to convince 88 men and women who determine the venue of the 2024 Olympic Games, and the likelihood of persuading the majority in Hungary’s favor was slim. Perhaps even impossible. That is the truth which most likely Viktor Orbán has known for some time. According to rumor, he learned the sad truth of Hungary’s poor chances in Rio de Janiero. The referendum drive therefore came in handy. He can withdraw from the competition and blame the opposition for it.

In fact, this is exactly what he decided to do after a few days of hesitation. While Orbán was trying to figure out a good story, Fidesz politicians gave interviews with wildly disparate messages, as usually happens when an autocrat rules a country. His minions, lacking instructions, are completely lost. Now that they have the word from above, the parrot commando can begin to work in earnest.

The story is as follows. Cities which in the past held referendums, even if these referendums were successful, were never awarded the privilege of holding an Olympics. Thus, with this referendum drive Hungary’s chances have become practically nil. It is therefore useless to hold the referendum because the whole enterprise has become hopeless. In fact, so hopeless that “it is questionable whether we would be able to garner even one vote.” This would be exceedingly shameful. “One can lose but one shouldn’t be beaten to smithereens.” According to Orbán, “we shouldn’t expose the country to such shame because we deserve better.” Hungary’s proposal was excellent, “we were honest, we really wanted to do it, and after all that, the world downgrades us to zero or just one or two votes while the other two [contenders] receive the trust of the members of the International Olympic Committee. This would be a humiliating defeat.” What these young people did was “a murder of a dream.”

To be the murderers of Viktor Orbán’s dream is no small feat, so from here on we can be certain that Orbán’s propaganda machine will be hard at work trying to discredit the organizers of the referendum drive. In fact, the character assassination has already begun. Orbán compared the group to SZDSZ, and we know what that means for Hungary’s illiberal leader. They are the greatest enemies of everything Orbán has been fighting for. He already sees a repeat scenario of what happened in 1994 when the leadership of the liberal SZDSZ, despite the fact that the socialists won an absolute majority in the national election, decided to join them in a coalition government. Orbán is certain that this young crew, which at the moment claims that their future party will face the electorate alone, will, after all, make peace with MSZP. “We must be ready for that scenario.” I’m sure he has already made plans.

According to those who are in the know, Orbán’s “whole story is nothing but a lie.” Hungary’s chances had been slim from day one. Initially commentators couldn’t understand how Momentum got permission to hold a referendum drive when earlier attempts had failed. I think it is pretty clear why Momentum’s request for a referendum was approved: it gave Orbán a way out. Some people thought that perhaps the approval had been simply an oversight on the part of the government; others argued that Fidesz thought the drive would either never get off the ground or would fail spectacularly. I think today we can safely say that Viktor Orbán is begrudgingly grateful to Momentum for allowing him to avoid a major embarrassment at the hands of the IOC.

As for Orbán’s decision to withdraw the bid, anti-Orbán forces, including the leadership of Momentum, consider it a sign of cowardliness. In general, large segments of the Hungarian public consider Orbán to be a coward, and not without reason. For instance, the last time he agreed to a political debate with his opponent was in 2006, when he cut a pitiful figure in his debate with Ferenc Gyurcsány. That was a lesson he never forgot. And his reticence is not limited to political debates. He consistently refuses to answer questions from reporters and rejects all requests for interviews from any organ that is not part of the government media empire.

It seems that portraying Orbán as a coward is not limited to his antagonists. Just yesterday a forceful article appeared in the right-wing Mandiner accusing Orbán of being afraid to discuss the pros and cons of holding the Olympics in Budapest and refusing to ask the people their opinion on the matter. Even his supporters are coming to the conclusion that their idol’s brave countenance is but a mask. Inside there is a quavering little fellow.

February 24, 2017

Another attempt to change the political landscape: The Momentum Movement

Even as we all complain about the political lethargy of Hungarians, a new political group has appeared on the scene. These self-assured young people in their late twenties and early thirties emerged from seemingly nowhere. But they handle their new roles in front of the cameras with poise and, unlike some earlier groups, they seem to have well-defined ideas about what they want. Although their immediate goal is to hold a referendum in Budapest to avert Orbán’s folly of hosting the 2024 Olympics in the capital, they are braced for an intensive political role. They call their movement Momentum.

Skeptics would say that Momentum’s efforts to defeat Hungary’s Olympics bid will be in vain. They must collect 130,000 signatures in 30 days in the dead of winter. And even if they get the necessary signatures, the prospect of a valid referendum is slim. Not even Fidesz’s outsize spending was enough to achieve that.

Momentum’s leaders seem to be realistic in their expectations: they will be satisfied even if all they achieve is getting the necessary number of signatures. After all, this would be a first among numerous failed attempts in the past. As for the likelihood of their ultimate success, the population of Budapest is divided on the issue of the Olympics. While about half of the population of Budapest opposes the games for economic reasons, the other half supports them either because of national pride or because they consider the infrastructure investment beneficial for their city.

If the only aim of the leaders of Momentum were to oppose holding the Olympics in Budapest, they wouldn’t have had such an enthusiastic reception in democratic circles. What Momentum offers is something new. The group unequivocally defines itself as a political organization. Why is that so significant? Because until now, newly emerged and promising civic groups refused any cooperation with political parties or declared themselves to be purely “professional” organizations. The leaders of these organizations denied any political motives, with the inevitable result that they became isolated and eventually disappeared. When, for instance, the teachers’ demonstration managed to get 40,000 people out in the pouring rain, it was clear that most of the people in the crowd were there because of their opposition to the government that was responsible for the ruined educational system. The teacher’s movement failed because it was unwilling “to get involved in politics.” Eventually, they noticed their mistake, but by that time it was too late.

What do we know about the Momentum group? I encountered two of the leaders in interview situations on ATV and HírTV, and I must admit that I was impressed. The chairman of the group, András Fekete-Győr (27), is a lawyer who works in an international law office in Budapest but earlier worked in the European Parliament and the Bundestag. The other person I watched was Anna Orosz (27), who studied economics in Budapest and Berlin with work experience in both cities. I haven’t seen a third member of the team, Miklós Hajnal, but I read a long interview with him. He is just finishing his last year as a student of philosophy, political science and economics in Oxford. According to him, about one-fifth of the membership either studied or lived abroad at one time or another and are eager “to bring home the best practices” they encountered abroad.

András Fekete-Győr and Anna Orosz

Momentum has had a longer history than I initially realized. At the beginning of 2015 nine young people established Momentum because “they were convinced that a purely civic initiative is not enough to achieve any systemic change. Therefore, they were thinking in terms of a political community which in the long run can offer itself as a replacement for the current political elite.” Their first move was to organize a get-together in a summer camp, attended by 200 people, somewhat similarly to what Fidesz did in 1985, in order to exchange ideas and hammer out a program. By the spring of 2016 the membership was large enough to establish an association with several working groups. What brought them together was a common feeling of “political orphanhood,” Miklós Hajnal told mandiner.hu.

I assume that if this group survives, we will know more about their political ideas. What I have learned so far is that although they don’t want to join any existing party, they are ready to work with all of them. They are not interested in ideology, and therefore they find labels like “left” and “right” obsolete. They find Viktor Orbán’s “work-based society” a dead end. They wouldn’t participate in primaries, which they consider “unfortunate and misleading.” Otherwise, their social policy strikes me as liberal. Anna Orosz’s historical ideal is Árpád Göncz, while András Fekete-Győr talked about St. Stephen and István Széchenyi. Judging from these references, both liberal and conservative strands are present in Momentum.

A right-wing blogger called the leadership of Momentum nothing more than a revival of the liberal SZDSZ’s youth organization. He reacted to the word “liberal” with the usual intense hatred. He described them as irrepressible and destructive people who keep returning in different guises. Among the leadership he called attention to András Radnóti, Momentum’s coordinator for foreign relations. He is the son of Sándor Radnóti, who indeed was very active in SZDSZ in the 1980s.

Former Prime Minister József Antall’s son Péter, who is heading the government-financed József Antall Center of Knowledge (Antall József Tudásközpont), wrote on Facebook that any associate of the foundation who expresses public support for Momentum’s anti-Olympics effort will lose his job. Those “who want to be independent politically” can pack. This is the son of the first democratically elected Hungarian prime minister after the regime change.

Magyar Idők also noted Momentum’s “attack on the Olympics,” which “is political in nature.” The current Hungarian government uses the words “politics” and “political” as practical equivalents of “treachery” and “treasonous.” One of the officials responsible for the preparation of the Olympics announced that “every time politics has gotten involved in sports, the sports have suffered.” This assertion is especially amusing considering that sports are such an important part of Viktor Orbán’s political arsenal.

I’m really curious what the reactions of other opposition parties will be to Momentum. LMP, Párbeszéd, Együtt, and the Two-Tailed Dog Party have already promised to help in gathering signatures. DK’s leadership hasn’t made any decision yet, but since DK also belongs to the anti-Olympics camp, I’m pretty sure that the decision will be favorable. MSZP, as usual, is divided on the issue of the Olympics, but MSZP’s spokesman promised an answer sometime next week.

As I said earlier, these young people are very self-assured and keep repeating that they are well prepared to enter the political struggle. Anna Orosz said in one of her interviews that “we would like to spread our ideas in ever larger circles and transplant them into reality.” The reporter’s reaction was that “in the next 30 days they will certainly meet reality” on the streets of Budapest. It will be an eye-opener and a challenge, I’m sure.

January 18, 2017

What happened to “the jewel”of Budapest? Nothing good

Let’s talk about money today, specifically the incredible amounts of money the Orbán government is wasting on all sorts of nonessential projects instead of on healthcare, education, research and development, and the alleviation of poverty among a large segment of Hungarian society.

We have spent countless hours discussing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s football mania, which is reaching pathological heights with the construction of countless football stadiums that remain mostly empty during matches. But I have devoted less time to “prestige investments” that are supposed to be testaments to the glory of the “Orbán era.”

These prestige investments are all about proclaiming the greatness of the new era initiated by Viktor Orbán in 2010. Projects like the new museum quarters actually began as a much larger undertaking, which would have redrawn the whole map of the Pest side of the capital. Already during his first administration Orbán started to put his mark on the cityscape. And after 2010 his desire to remake Budapest has only intensified. His desire to rule the country from the medieval center of royal power in Buda’s Castle couldn’t be curbed despite weighty arguments against it. The Aquatic World Championship to be held in 2017 and the possible Olympic Games in 2024 will further alter the look of Budapest. All dictators love gigantic architectural projects that serve as monuments to themselves. Orbán is no exception.

But back to money. Orbán’s projects have all turned out to be vastly more expensive than originally projected. This is true not only of the cost of the stadiums but also of projects that are still unfinished. Here I would like to talk about one such project: the Aquatic World Championship.

I have collected a few figures, going back to 2014, on the cost of hosting the aquatic championship events. The center of the two-week extravaganza will be a new swimming pool complex, originally the breathtaking design of Marcel Ferencz, a well-known Hungarian architect. Since it was to be built alongside the Danube, it would have had a commanding place in the cityscape. Based on the maquettes, the place was described as “the new miracle” and “the jewel” of Budapest. The government official in charge described the building as “the symbol of Budapest and Hungary.” In addition, of course, other buildings had to be constructed and general improvements of the area had to be undertaken, but the optimistic organizers still believed that 23 billion forints would be enough for the whole project.

The original design of the swimming complex by Marcel Ferencz

This sounded very low to people familiar with construction costs, as indeed it was. In May 2015 Magyar Közlöny, the official government gazette, revealed that the government had put aside about 50 billion forints for the project. So, the estimated cost doubled within one year. At that time, government officials in charge of the financing admitted that the swimming complex itself would cost not 8 billion but 23 billion forints. At the laying of the foundation ceremony, Viktor Orbán didn’t quite know what to call this stunning architectural structure. He thought that “palace” was too ostentatious and “komplex” was not a Hungarian word. “So, for the time being, we will just call it ‘aquatic center’ (vízi központ).” I think this description was too modest for such a stunning design. Or, perhaps he already knew something we didn’t.

A year later, new figures surfaced. By mid-2016 expenses had reached 90 billion forints. When Attila Mesterházy, an MSZP member of parliament, inquired about the projected total cost, it turned out that the non-profit company in charge of coordination had no final cost estimates for the project as a whole. In general, the Orbán government loathes revealing any of its activities. Practically everything is a “state secret,” preferably for decades. In this case the government was mum on the design changes that occurred mid-stream. It was suddenly decided that because Viktor Orbán hopes that Budapest will get the nod to stage the 2024 Olympic Games, the “aquatic center” had to be completely redesigned. Instead of the dazzling original design that could seat 5,000, the final building had to seat at least 15,000. Everything had to be changed. Even the entrance to the swimming pool had to be moved from the Danube side to Népfürdő utca. The new design, according to the architect, the same Marcel Ferencz, suddenly became “a huge box.” It is so big that ten ten-story apartment buildings could fit inside of it comfortably.

In January 2016, Origo announced the changes in the design in a fairly lengthy article in which one could see, as it turned out, somewhat idealized pictures of what the building will look like. There was a telling sentence in the generally upbeat description of the design changes: the building may be three times larger than was originally planned, but the cost must remain the same 20 billion forints.

Meanwhile, the construction of this monster continued, and by now the final shape of the building can be seen quite well. According to László Szily of 444.hu, it looks like a “depressing parking garage.” He can’t quite believe that “this something which was built from so much money and is so much in one’s face can be so unimaginative, hulking, maimed, and sad.” To break the straight lines, Ferencz added metal strips symbolizing waves, which in Szily’s opinion only exaggerate “the suffocating sense of hopelessness.” Szily thinks that “this parking garage is the symbol of the Orbán regime’s uncultured greed.”

The redesigned swimming complex by Marcel Ferencz

Szily thinks that one reason the government had to skimp on the sports complex is because thousands times more money is being showered on Orbán’s immediate family and his cronies. I see this case, and some of the other cases not discussed here, somewhat differently.

All of these prestige projects start ambitiously: hiring world-renowned architects, for example, to design some of the buildings in the museum quarters. Then, when reality catches up with the megalomaniac dreamers, the plans must be scaled down. By now, for example, no one knows which projects will be built in Városliget and which will not. Orbán vetoed at least one that he didn’t like. The same thing happened to this new swimming complex. The creation of a truly outstanding structure is beyond the financial means of the regime. Of course, Szily is right that Orbán’s priorities have something to do with scaling back some of these projects because, indeed, fattening up his own family and his oligarchs is his most important consideration. Thus, in the end, Hungary ends up with shoddy, uninspiring buildings.

I should add that there is something else wrong with dictators when it comes to art and architecture. Since theirs is the final word, their ideas on art are stamped all over everything created during their rule. And, let’s face it, Orbán and his friends in power have abominable taste. It is enough to look at some of their creations to date, for example, the Hungarian National Theater. Don’t expect anything remarkable to be built while Viktor Orbán is in power.

January 8, 2017

Holding the Olympic Games in Budapest: Viktor Orbán’s obsession

In the last week or so we have been learning more about the cost of Viktor Orbán’s dream project: to host the Olympic Games in 2024.

It’s hard to know exactly when he first entertained the idea. We know that by the time he became prime minister in 1998 he was already plotting to hold the 2012 Olympics in Budapest. Luckily Orbán lost the election in 2002, and the following year the Medgyessy government had the good sense to withdraw Hungary’s bid. But a lot of money had already been spent on the project, which was unrealistic from the start. What a disappointing year it had to have been for Orbán. No fancy palace for the first family in the Castle District and no chance of hosting Olympic Games in Budapest. But Orbán never gives up on his pet projects. He just may live in the Sándor Palace one day. And he is still working hard on his Olympic dream.

MTI / Photo: Tibor Illyés

MTI / Photo: Tibor Illyés

Over the course of the last two years, in great secrecy, a team prepared Hungary’s bid. Until recently no one managed to get any information out of the government concerning the amount of money that has been spent so far. A few figures have been known for some time. For example, $36 million was spent just on the bidding process, which included feasibility studies and projected estimates. The total cost of $2.8 billion that PricewaterhouseCoopers came out with is considered by Andrew Zimbalist of Smith College, who is an expert on the economics of the Olympic Games, simply “fanciful.” For recent Olympics “the cost runs from about $15 billion to $30 billion.” He carefully calculated the costs and the possible benefits of holding the Games and came to the conclusion that they were financial suicide for most cities.

Holding the games in Budapest has many opponents, mostly of course from the ranks of the opposition. They even tried to hold a referendum on the question, which was rejected by both the government and the Fidesz-majority City of Budapest. The Kúria followed suit. If the government is at all worried about the outcome of a possible referendum, it makes sure that it will never be held.

In early August Publicus Research published a poll which found that the majority of respondents didn’t want to have the Olympics held in Hungary. Seventy-five percent of them considered the cost too high and 64% thought that the country is too poor for such an extravagance. Almost 60% believed that the money spent on the Olympics would only enrich entrepreneurs close to Viktor Orbán. Two-thirds would spend the money on healthcare and education instead.

After quite a few months and a lot of effort, journalists finally got some information about the money that has been spent already, which is staggering. As 444.hu aptly declared, those figures should convince the government that “it would be time right now to abandon the whole affair.” The money flows through an office which began functioning in 2015 called Budapest 2024 Nonprofit Zrt., owned jointly by the Magyar Olimpiai Bizottság (MOB) and the City of Budapest. The office is well endowed by the government. This year alone it has a budget of close to $36 million. Next year Budapest 2024 will most likely receive the same amount. The nonprofit spends a lot of money on itself. For example, it moved into the Eiffel Palace, one of the notorious purchases of the Hungarian National Bank, which is perhaps the most expensive piece of real estate in the whole city.

The estimate of $2.8 billion, which Zimbalist considered to be “fanciful,” doesn’t include such items as new bridges across the Danube, new streetcar lines, and a new railroad bridge. These items, according to estimates, add an additional $7.2 billion. So, we have already reached the lowest possible figure of $10 billion that Zimbalist was talking about. This figure is 8% of Hungary’s current annual GDP. Moreover, if this is their own estimate, we can be sure that the final figure will be at least twice as much.

Zimbalist published an article, “An Economic Myth of Olympic Proportions,” just about the time the Olympic Games began. He described the Games as boondoggles in the majority of the cases. He called the International Olympic Committee (IOC) “an unregulated global monopoly” which conducts a biannual auction in which cities compete against one another to prove their suitability. “The outcome of this process is predictable: winning cities usually overbid.” Recent Olympic Games have cost $15-20 billion and the total revenue for the host city was about $3.5-4.5 billion, including TV contracts. Why is the figure so low? Because 75% of the revenue from the TV contracts goes to the IOC and only 25% to the host city.

People who are keen on hosting the Olympics argue that holding the games boosts tourism, but this is not always the case. In fact, tourism in London during July and August 2012 decreased by 5% because ordinary tourists don’t want to encounter huge crowds, transportation delays, inflated prices, and possible security threats. And the argument that the country as a result of a successful Olympics will be more attractive to investors is hollow. Why should it be?

Péter Zentai, a Hungarian journalist, interviewed Zimbalist at the end of August, in the course of which he elaborated on his assessment of the economic aspects of the Games. According to his estimate, the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro has lost about $10 billion. The Hungarian organizers argue that the so-called Agenda 2020 of the IOC puts a lid on the enormous expenses associated with the Games. But, according to Zimbalist, Agenda 2020 “doesn’t contain anything new.” The International Olympic Committee has always talked about “flexibility, sustainability, reuse” but at the end there was “always the same megalomania.” It’s no wonder that smaller cities like Cracow, Oslo, Stockholm, and San Moritz changed their minds. And there is talk about the possibility of Rome withdrawing its bid. The sad fact is that a mere 20% of the money spent benefits the economy and society of the city and the country.

One can only hope that Budapest will not win against Paris or Los Angeles, assuming Rome is no longer in the running. Even if the Hungarian government doesn’t have any sense and refuses to realize that the country doesn’t have the financial strength and the infrastructure in place to host the usual summer extravagance, perhaps those who decide the issue will.

September 5, 2016

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