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News that Budapest would host World Aquatics Championships was a surprise to city leaders

picture of 2017 aquatics championships

Budapest will host the International Swimming Federation (FINA) World Aquatics Championships in June and July of this year in place of Fukuoka, Japan, the global governing body announced yesterday.

However, it appears that the Hungarian government did not talk to city leaders before it made the offer to FINA to host the games in the Hungarian capital.

The government did not consult in any way with the Budapest City Council in advance about hosting the World Aquatics Championships. We only learned about the decision from the media.

-said Vice-Mayor Ambrus Kiss when contacted by Népszava for an opinion on the matter, further explaining:

State Secretary for Development of Budapest and the Metro Region Balázs Fürjes gave a short briefing on the government’s decision on Monday after the news broke. Based on this briefing, neither city leaders nor Budapest City Council have any formal obligation with regard to the request to host the event.

Squeezing the opposition-led city leadership into the background is particularly striking compared to when Budapest hosted the World Aquatics Championships back in 2017, which also happened as a result of taking over from another city that had bowed out.

At that time, the capital was far more involved, with Mayor István Tarlós the main patron of the event and the Budapest City Council issuing a letter of guarantee for it in 2015.

Tarlós took the opportunity then to point out that “the state will have to intervene to take care of financing public transportation,” as 20-25 billion Ft. (US $64.5-80.6 million) was needed to make up the shortfall in the Budapest public transportation budget. But even more is missing now from the BKV’s coffers thanks to the pandemic, yet the government has not become any more generous with helping out.

Complicating matters is the fact that renovation work on the Metro 3 line is still ongoing, and the busiest, middle part of the line remains closed for now. According to the present timetable, the entire line is expected to be finished by March 15, 2023, but the Klinikák, Corvin-negyed, and Kálvin Square stations may be ready by mid-May, while the Deák Square station won’t be open again until December at the earliest.

What this means is that those arriving for a major international sporting event will have to take replacement buses to the main venue. This will also require putting extra buses into service, while the government hasn’t even agreed to contribute funds for the capital to buy or rent buses so it can refresh its current fleet and replace buses that are no longer operational.

[Népszava]

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