Budapest will cancel its bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, the Associated Press reported Wednesday, making the Hungarian capital the seventh city to pull out of the final stages of the Olympic bidding process in just the last four years.
A pending city council vote that will assuredly pass will make Budapest the fourth city to nix a final bid for the 2024 Games alone, after Boston and Hamburg, Germany, backed out in 2015 and Rome canceled its bid in September. Budapest’s decision will leave just two cities ― Los Angeles and Paris ― competing to host the games.
Both LA and Paris are strong candidates that have hosted twice before. The IOC will vote in September to award the 2024 games, and is reportedly considering naming the runner-up as the host city for the next summer games in 2028.
But Budapest’s failure followed a path that has become increasingly familiar to the IOC and prospective Olympic organizers, as local residents have rallied against Olympic bids. In Budapest, an opposition group earlier this month gathered more than 260,000 signatures against the bid, forcing a referendum on the games that polling showed would likely defeat the city’s effort to host the games.
It is also the latest in a string of embarrassments for the IOC. Only two cities made it to the final round of voting for the 2022 Winter Olympics in 2015, too, after voters in Stockholm; Oslo, Norway; and Krakow, Poland, all rejected proposed bids.
It’s no secret why cities have been running away from the games: The Olympics’ exorbitant costs, destructive effects on poor communities and empty legacies have all been on display at the two most recent games, in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 and Rio de Janeiro last summer.
The cost of the Sochi games ― estimated as the most expensive in Olympic history ― and the debacle of the 2022 bidding process led the IOC to adopt a slate of reforms, known as Agenda 2020, aimed at making the Olympics more cost-conscious and sustainable.
But Olympic skeptics have dismissed many of those reforms as public relations ploys, and IOC officials themselves have said they don’t expect major changes to the bidding process. So it’s no surprise that cities ― especially those in democratic countries ― keep looking at the idea of hosting the Olympics and saying no.