Football and national pride
Prime Minister Orbán, addressing Hungary's performance in football, remained cautiously optimistic. When asked about Hungary's chances of progressing in the Euro 2024 group stage, he said, "I dare not say such a thing." He sees the group as unpredictable, where "anything can happen," emphasizing the importance of seizing opportunities.
Reflecting on Hungarian football's resurgence, PM Orbán expressed unwavering confidence in its revival. He likened its endurance to historical figures, stating, "Like Vladimir Ilyich, Hungarian football has lived, is living, and will live." He dismissed criticisms that recent successes were in spite of, rather than because of, domestic football developments. Orbán argued that the country's overall progress uplifts sports, saying, "Hungarian football is good not because the academy system suddenly improved... but because the whole country is moving in a certain direction."
Olympic ambitions and challenges
Prime Minister Orbán expressed a strong belief in the connection between sports and national character. He lamented the challenges faced in past decades, noting the need to modernize and rebuild Hungary's sports infrastructure. "It's impossible to restore continuity with the pre-communist Hungarian sports life," he said, emphasizing the need for a contemporary approach.
PM Orbán highlighted the importance of finding successors for Hungary's Olympic heroes, particularly in kayaking-canoeing and swimming. He voiced his concerns as he said that "I don't see what kayaking-canoeing can do, and I don't see what swimming can do," stressing the critical impact of these disciplines on Hungary's Olympic medal tally.
He also noted the generational shifts in sports, acknowledging that not every sport can maintain world-class performance consistently. This cyclical nature presents a challenge for Hungary, especially in the context of the Olympics.
Budapest's development linked to the Olympics
The prime minister strongly advocated for hosting the Olympics in Budapest, asserting its crucial role in the city's advancement. "The time has come when Budapest can hardly develop further without the Olympics," Orbán said, underlining the event's potential to catalyze growth and renewal.
PM Orbán's vision for Budapest encompasses not only the construction of sporting facilities but also the broader infrastructural development. He pointed out that the dormitories, for example, being built for the Olympic village would serve the city's long-term needs, demonstrating the dual benefits of such projects.
National unity and collective effort
Prime Minister Orbán emphasized the need for national unity and collective effort, especially in the context of major events like the Olympics. He critiqued the lack of consensus and the influence of pessimism, stating, "We had to accept this, so we did not engage in this battle. You can't organize an Olympics like this. You can organize an Olympics when the vast majority feels the time has come."
He expressed disappointment over the missed opportunities due to internal dissent and emphasized the importance of overcoming such hurdles for national progress.
The role of individual athletes
The prime minister praised individual Hungarian athletes, highlighting Dominik Szoboszlai's achievements and his role in elevating Hungarian football. "He, of course, kicked in the door of the biggest club," Orbán said, acknowledging the contribution of young talents like Milos Kerkez and Roland Sallai in the top leagues. He sees these athletes as the building blocks of Hungary's future in sports.