Dear Guests, dear President Bach, distinguished Leaders of the Olympic Movement,
Welcome and good evening. It is a pleasure indeed to stand here today and I admit it’s also a little strange. I never thought that I would be standing on a little bit of Hungary in Rio de Janeiro. And it is a very appropriate day on which to celebrate. As you heard, because today is St Stephen’s Day, which is Hungary’s National Day. Today is the day on which we celebrate the founding of our nation. It is the day on which we celebrate our strength as a nation through a thousand years of history. They were not always easy and joyful. It is the day on which we draw from St Stephen’s inspiration and example that we must never lose hope in the power of our collective effort to prosper and to thrive.
Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished Leaders of the Olympic Movement,
It is particularly appropriate that we are celebrating St Stephen’s Day at the Olympic Games.
So often in the twentieth century that quest for identity, for survival, has found its expression only through Olympic sport. So often in our past, Olympic sport has been the expression of our pride in our nation. So often it has been the stage, the playing field, on which we have shown our determination, whatever the odds, to see the nation’s flag fly high and proud. So we celebrate the laying on St Stephen’s Day of the foundations of the nation, here in Rio where the Olympic Movement is laying its own new foundations. Um mundo novo – a New World. And a new age when we Hungarians as are of the founders of the movement now feel that we can show our talent, courage determination and the beauty of our nation to the whole world.
This, in truth, is why we believe that the Budapest bid for the 2024 Games is the right city, with the right concept at the right time.
The right city, because the Games will help us lay new foundations for 21st Century Budapest. The investment in new roads, rail, metro; the new green spaces; the new sporting and cultural facilities; the new routes along the Danube; the new places for people to live and work; these will be the new foundations for the 21st Century city that accords perfectly with the long term development plan of the capital. I am speaking of a city Games that is also the Games of a nation. A city Games that puts 90 percent of our population within 90 minutes of the sporting events.
The right concept because a Budapest Games will help lay new foundations too for the Olympic Movement. Foundations built on the first truly central European Games. Foundations built on a Games that brings Olympic sport back within the reach of mid-sized cities with mid-sized budgets. A Games that would encourage mid-sized cities around the world that dared to dream of hosting a Games and had the discipline to achieve those dreams. The right concept too because those physical foundations will build a truly compact Games experience, accessible to all, making the city of Budapest a single, connected Olympic Park, a city-wide festival of sport. Foundations built on 2 zones, 27 venues within six kilometers of the centre of the city. An accessible, affordable Games that truly replays the call that Thomas challenged us to answer, a Games concept that delivered an Agenda fit for 2020.
And the right time, because these foundations will be built in a city that only now, three decades after throwing off the chains of despotism, could dare to host the world at an Olympic Games. As with Barcelona, so for Budapest. So Games in the right city with the right concept at the right time.
And before I close I want to pay tribute to the people of Brazil and to the Olympic Movement for showing the belief and determination to bring the Games to South America, to the new world; and to lay new foundations for the Olympic Movement here in the 21st Century. My deepest congratulations to Brazil, to Rio and to the people of this proud country.
And so I finish by introducing my colleague, Thomas Bach; an inspirational leader whose job is even more complicated and more difficult than mine, a man that I am proud to call friend. Thomas, it is a particular pleasure that you join us today to celebrate our national day here in Rio. It was sport that first brought us together two years back here in Rio and I would like to think that it is through sport that we will continue to walk the road of friendship together.
Welcome to Hungary House; and thank you for celebrating our national day here with us in Rio on this most special of days. It is indeed an honor. Thank you very much to be with us.