How to Become a Host City for the Olympics

By Erica Green

Every four years, people around the globe watch in fascination as athletes run faster, throw further and jump higher than everyone else. For two weeks, the world converges on one city to take in the Olympic Games. However, the process of choosing that Olympic city began over nine years before, when the city submitted an application to officially host the Olympic Games. Understand the 2-phase process to becoming a host city for the Olympic Games.

Phase 1: Application

Inform the International Olympic Committee of the applicant city. The National Olympic Committee informs the International Olympic Committee of a host city. The deadline is set two years in advance of the actual selection of a city.

Gather payment and signatures of candidate's acceptance. The payment to submit an official bid is $150,000. These actions occur a few weeks after the initial notification, with a deadline set by the International Olympic Committee.

Attend an information seminar. This is provided by the International Olympic Committee for all applicant cities. Then, the applicant cities work to complete a questionnaire contained in the "Candidate Acceptance Procedure" file. These are due about three months after the seminar. The types of questions asked pertain to finances, support from state and national governments, venues, scheduling, marketing and transportation. A few sample questions include: "What are the laws in your country that combat doping in sport?" "What financial commitments have you obtained from your local, state or national government?" and "Describe your concept of an Olympic Village."

Await the review by the International Olympic Committee. For a period of approximately 6 months, the International Olympic Committee and Olympic experts review and examine the applications submitted by all cities. Applications are assessed based on government support, public opinion, general infrastructure, security, venues, accommodations and transportation. The committee considers a city's potential to organize a successful Olympic Games.

Listen to the announcement of candidate cities. Following the reviews and examinations, the International Olympic Committee and Executive Board meets to accept the candidate cities for an Olympic Games. This occurs approximately 15 to 16 months before the final host city decision is made.

Phase 2: Candidature

Create an emblem. Each candidate city creates an emblem that represents their Olympic bid and Olympic Games. This emblem becomes a symbol of the Olympic Games held in their city. The creation of this emblem can occur at any point in the Olympic bid process.

Observe the current Olympic Games. Successful candidatures will see firsthand the workings of an Olympic Games as they visit the Olympic Games being held that year.

Complete candidature file. This involves detailed questions of how the Olympic Games will impact a city or region, how a city plans to finance an Olympic Games and key weather information for proposed Olympic dates. The current questionnaire involves over 150 pages of questions. A sampling of the questions include: "Explain how your vision of the Olympic Games fits into your city/region's long term planning strategy." "Provide an overall communication plan including timelines and budgets." and "Describe your motivation behind the choice of location of key Olympic infrastructure." Other questions focus on supplying the maximum, average and minimum daily temperatures as well as the average humidity for the past 10 years in the city. Questions about health care and transportation are also included.

Host site visits and await analysis of candidate files. The Evaluation Commission carries out site visits of the candidate cities and completes an analysis of the candidate city's file. Upon completion, it issues a report to all International Olympic Committee members. The International Olympic Committee Executive Board submits a final list of candidate cities to be votes upon by the International Olympic Committee session.

Await the slection of a host city. Approximately 7 years before the Olympic Games occur, the International Olympic Committee session votes and announces which candidate city has successfully bid for the Olympic Games. The announcement occurs in a neutral city, one in which the country or city were not bidding for the Olympics.

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