At the end of November, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony (pictured) told news channel ATV that support for the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest was contingent on two conditions: not transferring funds to the Fudan University Foundation, and ensuring funding for the development of the Healthy Budapest Program. The mayor determined that the conditions had been met, and so the city dropped its resistance to holding the event.
However, the Ministry of Finance’s announcement on December 22 of 755 billion Ft. (US $2.30 billion) in spending cuts in 2022 meant a 13.2 billion Ft. ($40.4 million) reduction in funding available for the Healthy Budapest Program.
As Gergely Karácsony explained to RTL Híradó:
If there are twenty billion forints available to destroy Lake Fertő, then there should also be ten billion for improving health care in Budapest. The capital will support holding the World Athletics Championships on the condition that the Healthy Budapest Program can continue. When the government withdraws these resources with a stroke of a pen, it basically pulls the rug out of hosting the World Athletics Championships.
RTL also contacted the Ministry of Human Resources and was told that: “The Healthy Budapest Program investments are only being rescheduled, which does not mean that they will not be realized.”
The mayor’s comments on Lake Fertő referred to an enormous public procurement project that was canceled on December 10 but recently offered again. According to the tender, the second phase of development will include two motels, a visitor center with restaurant, an area with 682sqm of usable space for water sports, and two large pools together with roads and bridges.
On Monday, Karácsony posted on Facebook that the epidemic proved that more should be spent on health care, especially in Hungary, where the mortality rate was very high compared to other countries. And yet, he reminded his readers that there was still plenty of money for prestige investment projects like the one at Fertő.
“It’s up to us to throw them out and finally choose a government that is about people first,” said Karácsony at the end of his post.