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Sport Has Grown into a Strategic Field

Text: defence.hu / MTI | Photo: Tamás Kovács / MTI, defence.hu archive, Zoltán Balogh / MTI, Róbert Hegedűs / MTI |  11:26 November 30, 2023

In the recent past, sport has grown into a strategic field in Hungary, we have got closer to becoming a sports nation – said Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky in the Committee on Culture of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

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The defence minister, who is responsible for sports, underlined at his annual hearing that Hungary hosted successfully several international sports events, such as the World Athletics Championships, two World Aquatics Championships and the UEFA European Championship, in parallel to this, many Hungarian athletes acquired gold medals at world events and significant sports facilities were developed.

“Hungary is the 93rd largest country in terms of population and the 108th in territory, but regarding the results of the summer Olympic games, it occupies the 8th position. We are also looking forward to next year’s Olympic games in Paris” – said Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky.

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According to him, the infrastructural developments of the past years – such as the reconstruction of the Puskás Aréna and the construction of the Duna Aréna and the National Athletics Centre – also show the strategic position of sport, as these buildings provide circumstances appropriate for the 21st century. He added that these sports events and developments enhance the Hungarian economy and liven up tourism.

He mentioned that 12,100 athletes from 195 countries participated in this year’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest, which were followed by over 400 thousand people on site and by a billion on screen worldwide.

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The minister also talked about the sports diplomatic successes of the recent past, such as the permanent membership of Balázs Fürjes in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Márton Gyulai’s appointment as Director of Sport in the World Athletics.

“The State Secretariat for Sport was placed under the control of the Ministry of Defence in the past year. Those virtues that make someone a good athlete are also important for becoming a soldier who defends the country” – said the minister.

Deputy State Secretary for Sports Administration and Development Gábor Schmidt said before the Committee that as a first step, the new sports administration tried to involve the participants of Hungarian sports life, especially the public bodies in every decision. Elite sport will be supported in the framework of the National Elite Sport Development Program from this year on, with 43 Olympic sports and a budget of HUF 15.9 billion, which will be increased by HUF 1.5 billion next year.

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The deputy state secretary emphasized that scholarship programs are provided for elite athletes, and as for coaches, besides the Advantaged Coach and the Advantaged Replacement Coach Program, the new Training Coach Program was begun. He also mentioned in connection with the support of organizations that the number of elite sports associations was increased both in the capital and the country. Besides elite sport, community sport also came to the forefront, the new Sporting Nation Program was begun in the autumn to make daily exercise part of as many people’s lives as possible. The sports administration also had to deal with extraordinary tasks, such as the settling of war refugee athletes and the operation of aquatic sports facilities threatened by the increased energy prices among others.