Giro d’Italia wants to ignore politics during Grande Partenza in Hungary

Hungary has introduced a series of anti-LGBTQ+ laws in recent years while prime minister Viktor Orbán is an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Photo: Ferenc Isza/AFP via Getty Images

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Giro d’Italia organizer RCS has said it does not want to take politics “into consideration” during the race’s Grande Partenza in Hungary later this week.

Hungary will play host to the opening three stages of the Giro d’Italia, an occasion that was originally planned for 2020 but postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the time since the country was supposed to host the Giro d’Italia start, Hungary has passed anti-LGBTQ+ laws that ban the use of materials in schools that are seen to be promoting homosexuality or gender reassignment. The country’s prime minister Viktor Orbán is also a staunch ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

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Nevertheless, the CEO of RCS, Paolo Bellino told reporters that the race would not enter into political discussions and that the event should be about enjoyment.

“I think that I would like to go out and not to take into consideration politics and other things. I think that we as RCS, and we as the Giro d’Italia, guarantee to all the people in general the possibility of living an incredible event and living together with us,” Bellino said Tuesday. “I have no barrier and I think that our intention is to create an incredible event, in an Italian style, with the best riders in the world competing and giving the opportunity of a great party. I’m not entering in any political or different situation.

“I’m a sports organizer, I think that sport is the only moment in our lives as a society where everybody is free to demonstrate their capabilities, and their passion. There are no barriers. I would like for the Giro d’Italia in Budapest to do the same thing.”

A further question about whether RCS was concerned about the potential for protests to happen around the event was shut down. The new laws, which were introduced in June 2021, sparked a series of protests across Hungary.

In soccer, governing body UEFA banned an attempt by the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany to light the stadium in rainbow colors during a game between Germany and Hungary as a protest against the laws. However, many fans in the stadium protested during the game and one ran onto the pitch while the Hungarian anthem was being played.

The legislation, which was framed as “child protection” by Orbán, has been criticized by campaigners for equating homosexuality with pedophilia. The European Parliament voted in July of last year to take legal action against the new laws and described it as “another intentional and premeditated example of the gradual dismantling of fundamental rights in Hungary,” according to the BBC.

It is not the first time that Hungary, which does not recognize gay marriage, has voted to restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ people. In 2020, the country’s parliament voted to prevent people from legally changing their gender and banned same-sex couples from adopting.

Orbán is also seen as a fierce ally of Putin, who congratulated the 58-year-old on his re-election last month.

While Orbán has criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he has also labeled Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky as an “opponent.” He has also refused to allow weapons to be transported to Ukraine through Hungary.

The Giro d’Italia will begin in Budapest on Friday, May 6, and will contest two flat sprint stages and a time trial before leaving for Italy on May 9.

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