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Chłoń: It is easier to mobilise protest voters
2 Jun 2014 Beata Balogová Politics & Society
IT’S NOT necessarily the majority that did not want the Olympic Games, Polish Ambassador to Slovakia Tomasz Chłoń says, adding that in today’s Europe it is somehow easier to mobilise protest voters rather than those who would support such a project. The Slovak Spectator spoke to Chłoń about a referendum in which inhabitants of the Polish city of Krakow said ‘no’ to the bid to organise the Winter Olympic Games in 2022.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): The referendum had a 36 percent turnout with 70 percent of the citizens voting against hosting the Olympics. What was, in your opinion, the main factor in the locals’ opposition to the Olympics?
The questions asked at the referendum were multiple. While not making a direct link, they indicated, for instance, a choice to be made: whether to spend money on the Olympic Games or to have a metro in the city. This was, I daresay, misleading, because it offered a false choice, namely many of the infrastructure projects especially in transportation will be more difficult to implement without the Olympic Games. So democracy won but people lost, in my opinion.
TSS: How do you view the fact that Poland and Slovakia as a consequence might not hold the winter Olympics? Has the bid been viewed as a substantial issue in Poland?
I personally think that we lost a gigantic chance to move Polish and Slovak relations to a new level. Sport events, as important as they are, with a huge incentive for our – Polish and Slovak – athletes to excel, would be just a part of the story. Another equally historic opportunity would be to develop trans-border tourism, business and people-to-people contacts. Can you imagine those tens of thousands of professionals and volunteers engaged in the preparations and the conduct of the Games and the resulting bonds? And with all the necessary respect [given] to nature.
So again, democracy won, but lost at the same time, because the referendum result was in my view also a sign of distrust in ourselves, our own civic potential; that we can organise the Olympics rationally, transparently and that it’s also our own and not only our central government’s and local officials’ endeavours. It’s a pity.
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