Budapest 2024's Athletes' Committee has said they are "indescribably sad and disappointed" after their Olympic and Paralympic Games bid was withdrawn ©Budapest 2024

Budapest 2024's Athletes' Committee has said it is "impossible to explain how sad and disappointed we are" after their Olympic and Paralympic Games bid was withdrawn.

They have claimed, however, that they "remain hopeful that it will not be too long before the Hungarian capital launches another bid".

Hungarian Government officials announced yesterday that the plug had been pulled on Budapest's bid for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.

Politician Zoltán Kovács said the decision had been made following a meeting between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the city's Mayor István Tarlós and the Hungarian Olympic Committee (MOB).

It came after political divisions amid growing calls for a referendum on the bid.

In what represents the first official statement from Budapest 2024, the Athletes' Committee, chaired by Sydney 2000 Olympic gold medal winning swimmer Ágnes Kovács, said it was "agonising" and a "huge blow" that the city would not be on the start line at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Lima on September 13, where the hosts of the 2024 Games will be decided.

They added that the goal was in sight and that they had a "genuine chance" of being chosen instead of Paris or Los Angeles.

"It is impossible to explain how sad and disappointed we are," the statement read.

"Our country has suffered a great loss with the end of Hungary’s Olympic and Paralympic dream. 

"In the home straight of this unique, global competition, we have been forced to give up the fight.

"We have all experienced first-hand that it is most painful to have to leave the race just before the finish line. 

"Our goal was within sight, and we had a genuine chance of victory in a tight battle. 

"It is therefore particularly agonising that Budapest will not be able to participate in the final test, decision time in Lima.

"We have been struck a huge blow - not just us, all of Budapest and the entire country, too."

The Budapest 2024 Athletes' Committee is chaired by Olympic gold medallist Ágnes Kovács ©Getty Images
The Budapest 2024 Athletes' Committee is chaired by Olympic gold medallist Ágnes Kovács ©Getty Images

Bid chairman Balázs Fürjes tweeted "thanks for the Olympic Family for all the encouragement, experience and enthusiasm we had in this wonderful journey" after news of the Government's decision emerged yesterday evening.

The IOC claimed they have not yet been informed by the MOB, who have not made any official announcement, of the bid's withdrawal.

"Obviously we would wait to be 'officially' notified by the NOC which is the only body which can withdraw the bid," the IOC said in a statement sent to insidethegames.

"You'll appreciate there is always a lot of speculation at such times."

Opposition had been mounting against the bid with campaign group Momentum Mozgalom officially submitting forms containing more than 250,000 signatures to the Budapest Election Committee seeking a referendum on whether it should continue.

Opponents had claimed the money would be better spent on education, healthcare, housing, living standards and transport.

Furjes said on Tuesday (February 21) that a final decision on whether the Hungarian capital will remain in contention was still a few weeks away.

A day earlier, though, he admitted that the city's efforts to stage the Games might be coming to an end after Momentum Mozgalom’s "NOlimpia" campaign gathered 266,151 signatures, considerably more than the 138,000 needed to trigger a referendum. 

Momentum spokesman Gergo Papp told Hungarian website that the Government had backtracked on the bid "in a cowardly manner", claiming they had taken away an opportunity for a vote to be held on the project. 

A survey published by pollster Median yesterday claimed that 50 per cent of Hungarians wanted Budapest to end its bid, with only 33 per cent in favour of it across the country. 

"The Olympics would have given our society and our sporting life new momentum, and not just because more Olympic and Paralympic champions would have grown up in the coming decades, but because children would have taken greater interest in sport and found greater joy in physical exercise," the Athletes' Committee statement added.

"We all know that we cannot lose our faith even in defeat. 

"We are athletes, so we have no choice: we will not quit!

"We have observed at close quarters the huge amount of work that went into the bid and have intimate knowledge of the fantastic Hungarian plans and visions that so impressed the IOC. 

"We therefore remain hopeful that it will not be too long before the Hungarian capital launches another bid in the steadfast belief that Budapest will one day be a worthy venue for the Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Budapest's withdrawal has caused concerns over the future of the Olympic Games bidding process.

They follow Hamburg and Rome in pulling out of the race for the 2024 event, with only two cities remaining in contention to host the Games.

In October, Rome's bid was "suspended" after the Italian capital's new Mayor Virginia Raggi refused to support it before it was officially declared dead earlier this month.