According to Minister of State for Sport Tünde Szabó, the fact that Budapest will be 2019’s European Capital of Sport is a fantastic acknowledgement for both the capital and Hungarian sport.

“We can be proud of this title, our athletes and professionals, and of Budapest, because the title is a clear acknowledgement of the fact that we can be a worthy host of large-scale sports events, and that we also play an important role in international sports life within the field of recreational and youth sports”, the Minister of State said on Tuesday at the “Budapest Sports Life - Budapest European Capital of Sport 2019” conference at the Bálna (Whale) cultural centre. She pointed out that while Hungary hosted only six state-sponsored international sports events in 2006, this number rose to 34 in 2010 and increased to 113 last year.

“An increase of this size requires suitable sports infrastructure, high quality tourism services and a stable country with a strong economy”, she added.

“I am happy to say that our capital now fulfils all of these requirement”, she stressed, adding that the title of European Capital of Sport for 2019 stands I perfect harmony with the Government’s sports policy goals.

Deputy Mayor of Budapest Alexandra Szalay-Bobrovniczky, who officially opened the conference, said that the Municipality of Budapest had decided to apply for the title in 2015.

“The target of the application, the joy of sport, the community experience, fair play and promoting a healthy lifestyle, are in harmony with what we also feel are our tasks with relation to sport in the capital”, Ms. Szalay-Bobrovniczky said, adding that Budapest is justified in regarding itself as a potential host of major international sports events, but the title is also an opportunity to ensure that European public opinion within the field of sport is focused on Budapest.

In his speech, Government Commissioner Balázs Fürjes stressed that Budapest is a global sports capital. He cited a statement by one of the largest data providers on the sports market according to which, in comparison to its population and economic strength, Budapest was in seventh place among the world’s capital cities in this regard in both 2016 and last year, adding that he believes the capital has a good chance of making it into the top five. The Government Commissioner listed at least ten reasons in favour of the capital, including good access, the Hungarians’’ love of sport, and the fact that Budapest is one of the world’s safest big cities.

President of the European Capitals and Cities of Sport Federation (ACES Europe) Gian Francesco Lupatelli told reporters that this year’s European Capital of Sport, Sofia, will be passing the baton on to Hungary on 22 November. According to the President, the title of European Capital of Sport could help Hungary to make a renewed bid to host the Olympic Games, possibly as soon as 2032.

Within the framework of the conference, Budapest officially accepted the ACES nomination of the title of European Capital of Sport, in confirmation of which Alexandra Szalay-Bobrovniczky accepted the ACES flag from President Gian Francesco Lupatelli, after which the representatives of those Hungarian sports associations that have undertaken to participate in the realisation of the series of events related to the Budapest European Capital of Sport 2019 year signed a press wall symbolising the cooperation.

The title of European Capital of Sport has been awarded since 2001 to one of the continent’s cities with over 500 thousand inhabitants The city must organise at least 365 sports events within the given year, including local, community, regional, national and international competitions.

(Ministry of Human Capacities/MTI)