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Budapest has cancelled its bid to host the 2024 Olympic games, after Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban accused opponents of “murdering” the country’s Olympic dreams.

City councillors voted to withdraw the bid on Wednesday, less than a fortnight after Momentum – a new political movement – presented a petition with more than 266,000 signatures calling for a vote on the multi-billion forint proposal.

Rather than fight a referendum on hosting the Summer games, Mr Orban’s government dropped support for the bid after the petition was handed in, criticising Momentum campaigners for dividing opinion.

“This is a political organization, which did not even hide that they want to primarily form a party and enter the political arena,” Mr Orban said in a radio interview after Momentum had presented signatures to city authorities.

“[They] were not even really interested in the Olympics and even went as far as murdering the Olympic dream.”

Momentum campaigners have said they view the Olympics campaign as a starting point for a broader political movement to contest 2018 parliamentary elections.

Even before the announcement, Olympics insiders said Budapest was a long-shot candidate for selection as 2024 hosts, scheduled for a meeting of the International Olympics Committee in Lima in September. The city’s exit leaves just two remaining candidate cities: Los Angeles and Paris.

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