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Furjes: Hungary to ‘benefit greatly’ from hosting World Athletics

Hungary is set to "benefit greatly" from hosting the World Athletics Championships starting on Saturday, Balazs Furjes, co-chairman of the organising committee, has said.
18. August 2023 14:37

Furjes said in an interview to MTI that completion of Budapest’s new athletics stadium had “healed a sore in the city scape”. A brownfield site has been revitalised and the city has become “more beautiful, greener, and more liveable” as a result, he added.

The championships are giving tourism new impetus, with 500,000 guest nights in Hungarian hotels, he said. “We are on the threshold of victory,” he said ahead of the upcoming events.

The championships were preceded by six years of preparations, Furjes said, thanking his fellow organisers.

The new National Athletics Centre, built next to the River Danube in southern Budapest, is “a lot more than a stadium; it has been an urban rehabilitation project aimed at renewing 15 hectares of polluted, neglected land … giving back that section of the Danube to residents,” he said.

He said the stadium built for 35,000 spectators now occupied one-third of the new park. After the championships, the stands will be reduced to 15,000 spectators, while an 800-metre running track for public use will be added, he said.

“The park’s playgrounds, sports fields and lawn, offering a view of the Danube, will be a favourite hangout for Budapest residents,” Furjes said, adding that the stadium was “Hungary’s greenest building, with renewable energy fully used for cooling and heating, with 200 geothermal ground loops.” He said the construction lasting 2.5 years had provided employment to 5,000 Hungarians, while the structure was made out of “steel components sufficient to construct three Chain Bridges and concrete for ten ten-storey blocks”.

Concerning Hungary’s winning bid to host the championships, Furjes said the World Athletics decision had been based on trust. “They trusted us and believed that we are capable of organising the event; and we have delivered on all of our commitments … even though at the time … we had no experience in hosting such a big event and we had no facilities for training or holding the competitions.”

The championships, “the biggest sports event Hungary has ever hosted … is a great opportunity for Hungarian sport; it will give momentum to Hungary’s athletics, inspiration to children, a motivation for healthy lifestyles, and will aid urban development,” he said.

“This … will put Hungary on the world map,” Furjes said, adding that the event would reinforce the nation’s “self-esteem, confidence, and unity”.

Furjes said ticket sales for “the largest sports event of 2023” would be well over 300,000. Some 2,000 athletes are arriving from 200 countries, he noted, adding that “such huge participation [otherwise] only characterises Olympic games”. The championships are expected to draw one billion television viewers worldwide, he added.

Over 50 athletes will represent Hungary in the championships, Furjes said.

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