Hosting the Best of the Best – Which Cities Have Been Olympic Host Cities?
The event of all events… not only are the Olympics the battlefield for the best of the best from around the world, hosting the event itself is another competition altogether. Being awarded Olympic host city status is no small feat.
Did you know that the 2028 Olympic host city has already been chosen?
That’s right. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) takes their job as seriously as the athletes take the competition, and with just as much training and preparation. They rigorously review the potential cities for many factors well in advance to determine where the Olympics should be held and the decision has already been made.
What does it take to be an Olympic host city?
The first step to becoming an Olympic host city is to be considered as a candidate through being elected. Being elected means lobbying for the opportunity to be reviewed, going through an initial review to make sure the city has all the prerequisites, then being named a candidate, and finally the gold medal equivalent of being awarded the honor of hosting the Olympics.
Whew! That’s a lot of steps, but it’s worth it. Not only does the host city get notoriety and fame, they also get an economic boost from the TV rights, visitors, and merchandise, and Olympic legacy stadiums and sports venues that the city can enjoy for decades to come.
Due to the number of steps and hoops there are to jump through, the process generally begins whopping nine years in advance. And every two years cities are allowed to make a bid to host the Olympics.
But wait, hasn’t the 2028 host city been determined already?
Yes, it is. This time around there have been some changes, and the city of Los Angeles was awarded hosting status 11 years out. The whole process was updated in 2014. It is more complicated, and arguably a lot more fair than the historic methods. It is split into three distinct phases:
Phase 1 – Applicant
Cities have a year to apply for candidature which involves becoming aware of what it means to host the Olympics and having the opportunity to prove they are capable of doing so.
Phase 2 – Candidature
In this part of the process the IOC’s Executive Board narrows down the cities that will be reviewed more extensively. It takes about seven months for possible Olympic host cities to develop a more detailed plan to prove they deserve the honor.
Phase 3 – Evaluation Commission
The final phase entails presenting all the evaluations and making a decision. The reports and information are made available to the public and detail what could go right and how to deal with anything that could go wrong. The reports are the source for decision making.
At the end of the phases comes the podium moment where a host city is chosen.
How did They Choose Olympic Host Cities in the Past?
They just decided. There was no special process or committee on record. In fact, the very first Olympics was held in Athens because Pierre de Coubertin thought it would be a great nostalgic symbol to athletic history.
He proposed the site, raised the funds, and four years later made the first modern Olympics happen!
What cities have Hosted the Olympics?
Athens was the first, but there have been many more. It is no small feat to be awarded hosting status and these cities have had the honor to do so.
Summer Olympics Host Cities:
1896: Athens, Greece
1900: Paris, France
1904: St. Louis, United States
1908: London, United Kingdom
1912: Stockholm, Sweden
1916: Scheduled for Berlin, Germany
1920: Antwerp, Belgium
1924: Paris, France
1928: Amsterdam, Netherlands
1932: Los Angeles, United States
1936: Berlin, Germany
1940: Scheduled for Tokyo, Japan
1944: Scheduled for London, United Kingdom
1948: London, United Kingdom
1952: Helsinki, Finland
1956: Melbourne, Australia
1960: Rome, Italy
1964: Tokyo, Japan
1968: Mexico City, Mexico
1972: Munich, West Germany (now Germany)
1976: Montreal, Canada
1980: Moscow, U.S.S.R. (now Russia)
1984: Los Angeles, United States
1988: Seoul, South Korea
1992: Barcelona, Spain
1996: Atlanta, United States
2000: Sydney, Australia
2004: Athens, Greece
2008: Beijing, China
2012: London, United Kingdom
2016: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
2020: Tokyo, Japan
Winter Olympics Host Cities:
1924: Chamonix, France
1928: St. Moritz, Switzerland
1932: Lake Placid, New York, United States
1936: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
1940: Scheduled for Sapporo, Japan
1944: Scheduled for Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
1948: St. Moritz, Switzerland
1952: Oslo, Norway
1956: Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
1960: Squaw Valley, California, United States
1964: Innsbruck, Austria
1968: Grenoble, France
1972: Sapporo, Japan
1976: Innsbruck, Austria
1980: Lake Placid, New York, United States
1984: Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia and Herzegovina)
1988: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
1992: Albertville, France
1994: Lillehammer, Norway
1998: Nagano, Japan
2002: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
2006: Torino (Turin), Italy
2010: Vancouver, Canada
2014: Sochi, Russia
2018: Pyeongchang, South Korea
2022: Beijing, China
Now that you have your fill of Olympic host city knowledge, test it out on a quiz: Can you determine which Olympics each of these cities have held (or will hold)?
Derek Pharr is Vice President of Products at Sporcle and an occasional writer of random topics and bad jokes. He also has an odd addiction to Taylor Swift songs and hates white foods.