Athletes competing at the Budapest 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics would travel to many events via boats along the River Danube, bid officials revealed here today, insisting they are a “safe option” in the four-horse race.
The Hungarian capital is still seen as an outsider by many in comparison with rivals Los Angeles, Paris and Rome, with concerns over the possible risks of awarding the Games to a country that has never hosted it before.
Budapest 2024 chairman Balázs Fürjes, however, insisted the low expectations are an advantage at this early stage of a race he considers “a marathon, but with several sprints along the way”.
He believes Budapest’s decision to step-in at short notice and host the 2017 International Swimming Federation (FINA) World Aquatics Championships after Mexico withdrew last year showed the city is one that can be relied upon.
“The FINA decision is about trust,” he told insidethegames immediately after a meeting with FINA officials to discuss the 2024 bid this morning.
“I think anybody coming here would see how we have progressed.
“You can trust Budapest because we deliver what we promised.
“It is a safe city and a safe country with a low crime rate and a good economy.
“When the host city is announced next year, we hope to be happy and we hope the gamblers who have taken advantage of the long odds on Budapest will also be happy.”
Fürjes was speaking alongside Athletes' Commission head and Sydney 2000 200 metres breaststroke gold medallist Ágnes Kovács and director of sport and venues Attila Mizsér, the Seoul 1988 modern pentathlon team champion.
He also provided more details of the Budapest 2024 venue concept following its approval by the City Council last week.
Among the most interesting ideas are utilising the iconic Danube - the longest river in the European Union region - as a means for competitors to travel from the Athletes’ Village in the Olympic Park on Csepel Island to other venues further up the river.
This makes sense from a geographical perspective as many events are spread out along the river.
A scheme to introduce large number of bikes which all those attending the Games could hire to travel between these venues is also being considered.
Although most events are being held within Budapest, sailing, golf and open water swimming would take place at Lake Balaton, a one hour drive away, while canoe sprint would be held at Szeged on an existing course 170 kilometres to the south on which the 1998, 2006 and 2011 World Championships took place.
The 2019 edition has also been awarded there.
Separate Athletes' Villages will be held at these locations outside the capital, although there will be space for all these competitors in the main Village in Budapest once their events have finished.
All the venues are not confirmed yet, with rowing potentially taking place either in Szeged or in the city centre itself on the Danube.
Preliminary matches in basketball, football, volleyball and handball will also be held across the country, although the finals will all take place in Budapest.
A final decision between the four candidates is expected to be made at the 2017 International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Lima.