Budapest will stage an Urban Games next month which has been inspired by the Hungarian capital’s attempt to secure the hosting rights for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Bid Committee has announced.
The event, set to feature five sports - cycling, table tennis, four-a-side football, running and longboarding - has the backing of both the City of Budapest and Budapest 2024 and is due to be held on October 1.
It is aimed primarily at youngsters, with professionals and amateurs expected to compete across the various sports, which will take place at some of the city’s most iconic landmarks and venues.
Cycling will begin at the Freedom Statue, Budapest’s symbol of independence and one of the elements of the Budapest 2024 logo, while table tennis and football will be staged at the iconic 19th century Klauzál Square Market.
Budapest 2024 hope the Urban Games, launched with less than a year to go until the International Olympic Committee (IOC) elects its chosen host city for the event at its Session in Lima on September 13, will help generate enthusiasm for the bid among the city’s youngsters.
Balázs Fürjes, chairman of the Bid Committee, claims the competition, which will be supported by “several” Olympic and world champion athletes from Hungary, will provide a legacy for the city “whatever the outcome of the vote”.
“It’s true that the Budapest Urban Games has been inspired by our bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he said.
“But we prefer to think of this event as one of many initiatives that will be a legacy of our bid, whatever the outcome of the vote, rather than being linked to any milestone in particular.
“There’s a huge amount of work goes into an Olympic bid and it’s very structured, very organised.
“But sometimes we need to take a look around and remember why it is we do what we do.
“Who really benefits?
"And that’s exactly what the Urban Games is all about.”
Deputy Mayor of Budapest Alexandra Szalay-Bobrovniczky also revealed they will look to include skateboarding, recently added to the Olympic programme at Tokyo 2020 by the IOC, at future editions of the Urban Games.
The Bid Committee are hopeful that the skateboarding event at next year's Games will form part of a major international competition.
“We are starting with sports that inspire real grassroots excitement in the city,” he said.
“We hope to expand the event next year and we’re especially keen to include skateboarding – it’s the archetypal urban sport and Budapest has an excellent skateboarding environment.
“We’d also like to build some international competition within the framework of the event.”
Fürjes believes Budapest 2024’s bid has got “stronger” with age while admitting there is still “a huge amount of work” before the Session in the Peruvian capital.
They received a boost after a new poll found that around two thirds of Hungarian citizens would be “proud” or "very proud" if Budapest hosted the Games.
“Concerning partnerships, we are also preparing for International Federation visits which start very soon,” he added.
“Our teams are keen to work on site with the federations, so that we can really start to hone in on the details and create the best possible environments for athletes.
“With one year left to go, there is a still a huge amount of work and a lot to look forward to. For example, we host the ‘big three’ in July and August next year [the European Youth Olympic Festival, World Judo Championships and Aquatics World Championships].
“People ask me what our biggest challenge is, and the answer is simple: explaining the magic of Budapest to someone who has never been there.”