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Rome, Budapest won’t hold 2024 Olympic bid referendums

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Budapest’s city council has rejected a proposal by members of the opposition parties to hold a referendum on the Hungarian capital’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos rebuffed the notion as “political demagoguery” and said Wednesday it was unclear whether Budapest residents had adequate information about the Olympics two years before the host city is chosen.

While Prime Minister Viktor Orban‘s government has thrown its full support behind the bid, critics have cited the likelihood of cost overruns and the stress to be put on the city’s infrastructure as reasons for concern.

According to Nezopont Intezet, a pro-government research institute, support among Hungarians for hosting the Olympics has risen from 40 percent in August 2014 to 53 percent now.

While Hamburg’s bid for the 2024 Olympics was rejected by German voters, leaders of Rome’s bid are sticking to their plans of avoiding a referendum.

“The citizens in Rome are very particular,” bid ambassador Fiona May said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press. “Italians are very passionate. I don’t think you need to do a referendum. You feel it.”

Rome’s bid is centered around the Foro Italico complex that hosted the 1960 Games. The existing Stadio Olimpico would host track and field events and the opening and closing ceremonies, while swimming would be held at an adjacent aquatics complex.

“They’re there,” May said. “That’s a big expense that has been avoided. … It’s just a natural thing for us.”

Hamburg’s bid was scrapped after 51.6 percent of residents voted against the project in Sunday’s referendum, with 48.4 percent in favor.

“I’m not surprised,” Rome bid chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said. “The only thing that surprised me was that they made Hamburg the candidate and not Berlin.”

Rome pulled out of bidding for the 2020 Games after the Italian government declined to provide financial support. The current government backs the 2024 bid, which calls for a games operating budget of 6 billion euros ($6.3 billion).

“We don’t have any obligation or judicial instrument to form a referendum like the one in Germany,” Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago said. “But I’ve always supported that starting in February, once we outline the bid dossier, that over the ensuing year there will be chances to discuss it and survey the city. And there’s nothing to worry about that.”

With Hamburg out of the race, four cities remain in the running for the 2024 Games. Rome is competing against Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest, Hungary. The IOC will select the host city in September 2017.

Also Tuesday, Rome’s bid team unveiled a board of five trustees composed of leading members of the Italian legal world to ensure transparency amid a wide-scale corruption scandal in the capital.

Born to Jamaican parents, the British-born May won two Olympic silver medals in long jump for Italy in 1996 and 2000 after marrying an Italian. Her background has made her a symbol for a new generation of Italian immigrants and their children.

“Italy is changing and I was part of that change years ago,” she said.

MORE: Rome bid plan includes Colosseum, Circus Maximus

Thomas Bach: Hamburg bid rejection is ‘missed opportunity’

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The rejection of Hamburg’s bid for the 2024 Olympics marks a “missed opportunity” for the city and Germany, IOC President Thomas Bach said Monday.

Hamburg withdrew its bid Sunday after it was defeated in a referendum by voters in the northern port city. The vote was 51.6 percent against, and 48.4 percent in favor.

“The IOC of course respects the close vote by the citizens of Hamburg,” Bach said in a statement. “We regret the decision, which should be seen in the light of the very particular and difficult circumstances the referendum was held in. This is a missed opportunity for Hamburg and Germany.”

The vote came as Germany copes with an influx of migrants and refugees, a situation that Bach said “requires a great effort by German government and society and is causing widespread feelings of uncertainty.”

He also said the result may have been influenced by current doping and corruption scandals in sports. Without citing any by name, Bach alluded to the scandals surrounding FIFA, allegations of bribery involving Germany’s winning bid for the 2006 World Cup, and doping and corruption charges facing the IAAF and track and field.

“This is a pity,” Bach said, adding that the IOC applies strict anti-corruption rules.

The IOC president said the Hamburg vote was “greatly influenced” by the issue of how the games would be financed. Hamburg’s operating budget of 3.4 billion euros ($3.6 billion) was “very well balanced,” with the IOC planning to contribute $1.7 billion to the project, Bach said.

Hamburg’s withdrawal leaves four cities in contention: Rome, Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest, Hungary. The IOC will select the host city in September 2017.

“The IOC is proud to have four strong candidate cities,” Bach said.

A spokeswoman for Angela Merkel said the German chancellor regretted the decision by Hamburg voters.

Merkel “took note of the results of the vote in Hamburg, and the chancellor finds this decision regrettable but of course she respects the will of the people,” government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz told reporters in Berlin.

“That’s why referendums are held – to find out what the population wants, and obviously Hamburgers don’t want the Olympics,” Wirtz said.

MORE: Soccer star Carli Lloyd and coach Jill Ellis nominated for FIFA honors

Hamburg withdraws 2024 Olympic bid after referendum

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Hamburg will not continue its bid to host the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics, withdrawing from the race after a public referendum was held.

If over 50% of the voters in Hamburg had voted in support of the Olympic bid they would have stayed in race. However, the New York Times reported that of the 650,000 votes that were cast, 51.7% were against the bid.

Olaf Scholz, the mayor of Hamburg, said, “This is a decision that we did not have liked but it is clear.”

A public referendum also ended Munich’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Germany has not hosted a Games since 1972.

The cities that remain in contention to host the 2024 Olympics are Los Angeles, Budapest, Paris and Rome. None of these plan to hold public referendums.

The 2024 host city will be selected on September 13th, 2017 at the International Olympic Committee meeting in Lima, Peru.