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Budapest rejects holding referendum on 2024 Olympic bid

Budapest strikes down a referendum attempt with opinion polls in their favor. Rome intends to go forward with their bid as well without a referendum.

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.

Councillors voted 16-14 against the proposal to hold a referendum, which had been put forward by the opposition party. The decision comes in the wake of Hamburg referendum in which residents eliminated the city from contention for the Olympics.

Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos rebuffed the notion as "political demagoguery", saying Wednesday Budapest residents had adequate information about the Olympics two years before the host city is chosen.

"From a political point-scoring point of view, 'Let's ask the people' sounds good," said Tarlos. He wants the decision to be up to decision makers, adding: "If decision-makers are unable to make decisions, then they are unfit for what they were voted for."

Opinion polls in Hungary have shown a small majority in favor of hosting the games. A referendum could still be held if enough signatures of Budapest residents were collected, but analysts consider it unlikely that the bid will be blocked.

Rome sticking to plan

Though Hamburg is the second city to end its Olympic bid - Boston being the first - 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 told The Associated Press Tuesday. "Italians are very passionate. I don't think you need to do a referendum. You feel it."

Stimmzettel Olympia-Referendum Hamburg

After Hamburg voted down the city's Olympic bid, Budapest and Rome will do their best to avoid such a referendum.

"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."

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."

Rome pulled out of bidding for the 2020 Games after the Italian government declined not 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).

Rome and Budapest are competing against Paris and Los Angeles for the right to host the 2024 Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee will make their decision in mid-2017.

dv / (AP, AFP)