According to Government Commissioner for Major Budapest Developments Balázs Fürjes, the success of the World Aquatic Championships closed on Sunday is not the success of the Government, but the shared success of Budapest and Hungary which reinforced the self-confidence, self-esteem and cohesion of the Hungarian people and forged the nation together.

Balázs Fürjes told Hungarian news agency MTI that while a number of criticisms were levelled at the facilities of the World Aquatic Championships, claiming that they had not been completed in a timely manner, the false news reports and lies only added to their determination.

“We worked day and night in order to make Budapest and Hungary a worthy host of the world’s third largest sporting event. Our goal was to turn this event into


the best World Aquatic Championships of all time


equally for the athletes, the leaders of the international federation FINA and supporters”, the Government Commissioner said.

He added: they were also accused of having forgotten to install heating in the Duna Arena. “Indeed, we did not install heating in the temporary stands as we only used them during the World Championships, in the summer heat, and we will also use them during the World Masters Championships, but we did provide for air-conditioning. There will be heating in the base building that will remain after the dismantling of the temporary sections”, he argued.

Regarding the success of the World Aquatic Championships, he took the view that “it is not the success of a single individual or the Government, but our shared success, the success of the Hungarian people, Budapest and Hungary”.

“The World Aquatic Championships are about cohesion, the keeping of promises and Hungarian talent. They are about cohesion because the Hungarian Parliament passed the Dagály Law with an overwhelming, 97 per cent majority which accelerated the projects that were necessary for the event, but we are equally grateful to Miklós Seszták, President of the Organising Committee, István Tarlós, Mayor of Budapest and József Tóth, Mayor of the District of Angyalföld. They are about the keeping of promises because we agreed to organise the World Championships under extraordinary circumstances. We had two years for the preparations, while other hosts have five to six years at their disposal. And the success of the World Aquatic Championships is equally about Hungarian talent”, he said.

He highlighted: his first city-building assignment was the construction of the Papp László Arena, in the implementation of which British, American and French experts were involved. A decade and a half have gone by, and the Duna Arena completed within the planned budget and before deadline was designed by Hungarians, was built by Hungarians, and is one hundred per cent Hungarian performance, he stressed.

Regarding the costs of the World Aquatic Championships, he pointed out that only those items and expenditures can be classified into this category which were solely incurred on account of the sporting event, and which solely served the purposes of the Championships.

“Everything else that was otherwise necessary and useful, and improves the lives of the people of Budapest in the long run would have been implemented anyway; these therefore cannot be included in the expenditures of the World Aquatic Championships. Consequently, the actual expenditures of the World Aquatic Championships are the costs of the opening and closing ceremonies, organisation and the temporary structures and facilities, and nothing else.”

Upon mentioning specific sums, Mr. Fürjes said that the expenditures of the temporary projects and developments amounted to HUF 7.8 billion, while the operating and organisational expenditures amounted to HUF 38.6 billion. “Just to give you a better idea, spread over a period of three years, these expenditures amount to one per mille of the state budget per annum which the growth of the Hungarian economy, in excess of the EU average, amply covered. In other words, the expenditures were far from extreme”, he said. He drew attention to the fact that there are, at the same time, a number of items which are attributed to the World Aquatic Championships, but which cannot in actual fact be classified as forming part of the expenditures of the sporting event.

“These are projects which are indirectly associated with the organisation of the World Aquatic Championships, but they will make the lives of the residents of Budapest better and more comfortable for decades to come. While the World Championships helped the implementation of these projects as a catalyst, the construction of these facilities was a necessity anyway. For instance, we need new, modern swimming pools. The Császár-Komjádi swimming complex was characterised by leaking taps and rusty structures, every second day someone went home with a nasty fungal infection. The Hajós complex, too, was in need of a facelift. The refurbishment of Margaret Island likewise could not be postponed any further, and the reconstruction of the Dagály Bathing Complex and the Pest Embankment also could not wait any longer. Or I could also mention the flood protection dam: in the case of high water levels on the Danube, the Dagály Bathing Complex and the residential buildings in the neighbourhood were regularly flooded, but the residents of Angyalföld can now feel safe and secure. We now repaid an old debt”, Mr. Fürjes said, who takes the view that a further benefit of the World Aquatic Championships is that “the same way as the Olympic Games or the European football championship, the event forged the nation together, reinforced the community, and enhanced the self-confidence, cohesion and self-esteem of the Hungarian people.”

“The event boosted not only competitive sports, but also leisure time sports and succession training. On the other hand, it placed Budapest on the map in the wider world. It played a major country and city image building role, hundreds of millions of television viewers and newspaper readers acquainted themselves with the name of the Hungarian capital and may have marvelled at its most beautiful features. Had we had to pay for all the advertising charges, we would be talking about tens of millions of dollars”, he listed.

In the context of the success of the World Aquatic Championships, he highlighted: he is convinced that had Budapest reached the awarding of the Olympic Games in Lima, it would have been awarded the right to host the 2024 or 2028 Olympic Games.

“Those who spent even a single day in Budapest during the World Aquatic Championships are most likely to feel the same way. The Formula 1 in Mogyoród and the European Youth Olympics Festival in Győr were held in the last few days of the World Aquatic Championships, and a great many guests attending these events stayed in the capital. Budapest experienced an Olympic load, it functioned in Olympic mode, and also during those days, it passed the test with flying colours. These experiences, too, compel me to say: those who destroyed our dreams deprived Budapest of an historic opportunity”, Mr. Fürjes stated.