Olympic Host Cities and the Hunt to Host the Games

Olympic Host Cities

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

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.

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Derek Pharr
About Derek Pharr 73 Articles
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.