Address by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the state awards ceremony for Hungarian medallists in the Games of the XXXII Olympiad and the XVI Paralympic Games

15 October 2021, Budapest

Distinguished Olympians, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Greetings to the champions, greetings to our Olympic and Paralympic medallists. I thank your coaches and families, your teachers, your mentors, and I salute everyone who has supported you in your great undertaking. Credit is also due to the enablers behind these spectacular successes, whose work contributed to these glorious medals: sports physicians, physiotherapists, masseurs and sports psychologists. It is a special pleasure to be joined today by legendary figures from Hungarian sport and the leaders of the Hungarian Olympic and sports federations. I also extend a warm welcome to them.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With the word “bajnok” [champion] the Hungarian language hits the nail on the head. This word originally referred to a gladiator or fighter. It was used to describe courageous combatants who bravely engaged the enemy face to face. Warriors who were victorious in these contests were called champions. Our Olympic champion Jenő Buzánszky coined the following epigram: “The loser can say what they like, but what matters is said by the winner.” Indeed, victory and excellence need no explanation. There are moments in life that speak for themselves, the truth of which cannot be denied, and to which everyone pays tribute. In Hungary, champions – in whatever field – deserve special respect. Today’s champions, like the battle-hardened soldiers of old, embody the nation’s finest qualities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We Hungarians love our Olympics and our sports as they are. We are less enthusiastic about new fashions. We prefer women to compete in women’s events and men in men’s events. There is also ever more talk about who knelt and who didn’t, what message was written on their T-shirt and what armband they wore. It is not good for the attention and respect demanded by performance to be replaced by things that have no place there. After all, the greatest value of sport is its ability to bring out the best in people. Individual achievement also encourages self-reliance in other areas of life. It is the mission of sportspeople to be the best, to take us with them, and to push us to do better. They do not allow us to succumb or surrender to the temptation of comfortable mediocrity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We seldom think about it, but the very first moment of our lives is a major sporting achievement. At the beginning of our life we had a battle to win. Without struggle we would not have been born. We Hungarians understand this, which is why we hold our athletes in especially high esteem. We are a country that was deprived of a large proportion of its natural treasures and resources. Whether we like it or not, history has enlisted us in the struggles of a sport known as survival. Everything we have is the result of individual achievement and work. Your success therefore goes beyond the exhilaration of personal triumph and success. Your victories serve as an example to us all of perseverance and fighting spirit. This is necessary, as today Hungary still faces daunting challenges. In the competition between nations, we know that if we fail to match the success of our Olympic heroes, we will be left trailing behind, looking at our competitors’ backs. We can only survive and be successful by winning. This is the law. There are no exceptions to this – much as we would like there to be, and good as it would feel.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

The Olympic ideal and national feelings have shared roots. Without nations there are no Olympics. At the end, the flag of the victorious nation is raised highest and its anthem is played. Our flag and our anthem. You make us all proud. You kindle within us the feeling of how good it is to be Hungarian. Thank you for allowing us to share your passion and joy.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

The Hungarian sporting scene is full of world-class ateliers, which place Hungary atop the world rankings in many sports. Given the size of our population, there is perhaps no other nation that can create enduring achievements in so many disciplines. Perhaps it is no coincidence, but this is also true of the Hungarian economy. Hungary’s economy is one of the ten most complex in the world. If I’ve counted correctly, in this year’s Olympics we scored another historic success: in terms of the number of gold medals per capita, we overtook the Finns, making us number one in Europe and number two in the world. We owe this feat to you. And so, on behalf of all Hungarians, I thank you once again for the unrivalled, superhuman performance of you, our Olympic and Paralympic medallists. I salute you and thank you for all you have done for your country!

Glory to the heroes! Faster, higher, stronger! Go Hungary, go Hungarians!

Photo credit: MTI