Antall József Center employees warned criticizing Olympics on Facebook could cost them their jobs

January 18, 2017

MTI photo: Koszticsák Szilárd

The director of the state-funded Antall József Knowledge Center has warned his employees on Facebook that anyone publicly expressing opinions on Hungary’s candidacy to host the 2024 Summer Olympics should find another job.


Esteemed Colleagues:

I direct your attention to the fact that we are financed by the Prime Minister’s office! I don’t want to see the kinds of posts or likes from our colleagues that attack the Olympics. I consider this important! Everyone can have an opinion, but I ask you not to express it publicly, because that can harm this institution.  My message to whoever wants to make themselves politically independent or expose themselves in other directions is that it isn’t required that you work here. I don’t want to stand in the way of anyone’s career, I will sign anyone’s walking papers. We don’t get involved with daily political debates! Regards, P

The center’s director, Péter Antall, is the son of Hungary’s first democratically elected prime minister József Antall, who held the office from 1990 to 1993. His warning to employees comes after news of a possible referendum on holding the Olympics in Budapest in 2024. Critics say Hungary shouldn’t hold the games while the condition of many of its public services is deteriorating, and should instead forward Olympic expenses to improving the medical system, the education system, and combating poverty. Antall’s warning suggests that consequences can be expected for public expression of opinion that contradicts the will of the Hungarian government, even if such criticisms come in the form of Facebook posts or page likes.