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All about the Candidature Process


The Process

One of the most important decisions taken by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the election of the host city for the Olympic Games. The Games are awarded to one city, although some venues may be located outside the host city itself. The host city election takes place seven years before the Games, but the actual candidature process is launched 10 years before and lasts for a period of approximately three years.

All about the Candidature Process

Hosting the Olympic Games offers manifold benefits and opportunities to a Candidate City and the host region and country. Many years of careful and precise planning are required to host successful Olympic Games, with all of the relevant organisations, authorities and stakeholders working together as one united team, to ensure that the Games leave a positive, longterm and sustainable legacy.

The Olympic Candidature Process has been shaped by Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC’s strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, approved by the Session of the IOC in December 2014.  There will be greater dialogue between the IOC and the Candidate Cities and progressive information exchange will increase. Cities are encouraged to better shape their value propositions and to discuss and present proposals and potential solutions that will deliver excellent Games, without compromising the field of play for the athletes and also meeting the needs of the city and region to ensure a positive, long-term, sustainable legacy. 

This process includes the following stages which are described in detail below and which are governed by the Olympic Charter (Rule 33 and its bye-law):

A)    The Invitation Phase (not a formal commitment to bid)

B)    The Candidature Process (a formal commitment to bid)
        a.     Stage 1: Vision, Games concept and Strategy
        b.    Stage 2: Governance, Legal and Venue Funding
        c.     Stage 3: Games Delivery, Experience & Venue Legacy 

Invitation Phase

The Invitation Phase is a direct result of Olympic Agenda 2020. This new period focuses on the spirit of dialogue between the IOC and future Candidate Cities to establish a strong basis for the next stages. The IOC provides a range of service to NOCs and cities interested in bidding.  Potential Candidate Cities are invited to attend a workshop in Lausanne to discuss their initial ideas with the IOC and receive various levels of assistance and feedback ahead of officially submitting a candidature. This also includes sharing of best practices, provision of materials and a focus on understanding the Games to put together a solid project that best meets the city’s long-term development needs.  

Encouragement of legacy and sustainability begins right from the outset of the Invitation Phase to ensure the Games act as a catalyst for positive development of tangible and intangible legacies for the city and the region.

At the end of the invitation phase, NOCs and cities are invited to commit to the candidature process and a city becomes an official Candidate City.

The Candidature Process - Overview

Following the Invitation Phase, cities which have taken the decision to bid for an Olympic Games enter the official Olympic Candidature Process.  This spans a period of two years culminating in the Host City Election by the IOC Session. 

Olympic Agenda 2020 has highlighted the need for a shift in the candidature process in order to accommodate different solutions to meet Games needs within different cities’ contexts. To enable the IOC has placed even further emphasis on sustainability and legacy.  In addition, the IOC has carried out a thorough review of Games’ needs in order to reinforce alignment between a city’s long-term development plans and the Games, enabling cities to pursue the promotion of sustainable Games solutions and feasible long-term impacts which meet their needs.

Through the framing of the candidature process as an invitation, the IOC and NOCs/cities will enter into a dialogue. This ongoing dialogue and progressive information exchange (allowing course correction for the cities) will be underpinned by periodic opportunities for collaboration, or simply put, touchpoints between the cities and the IOC. During all three stages the IOC provides services to every city including specific workshops, learning opportunities and transfer of knowledge.  

Three official submissions by Candidate Cities in line with the three stages of the process form part of a single integrated process which allows work to mature at an appropriate rate with filings to the IOC mapped to a logical series of milestones with staged analysis by the IOC. Each stage will address different elements of the cities’ proposals in the context of the inherent nature of each country, region and city. During stage 1 and 2 the IOC Evaluation Commission Working Group will analyse the files submitted and provide a dashboard report to the IOC Executive Board. Following stage 3 the IOC Evaluation Commission analyses the submission and publishes its final report following a site visit to each city. After each submission, the IOC Executive Board will confirm the transition of the cities to the next stage.

To summarise, through the adoption of Olympic Agenda 2020 the IOC and the Olympic Movement have confirmed an openness to different Games value propositions that will deliver great Games for athletes whilst also meeting a city’s/region’s vision and legacy and sustainability goals. 


This phase is the strategic analysis phase, during which Candidate Cities put together their Games vision, concept and legacy plans.  During this stage cities build national support from stakeholders and the general public, whilst developing firm foundations and putting together a solid concept that meets the long term development and legacy plans for the city and region, with a strong emphasis on sustainability.

Learning Opportunities and TOK – Stage 1  

Shortly following the announcement by the IOC of the official Candidate Cities, the IOC will host a video conference for all cities. The purpose of this video conference is to provide the cities with important procedural information allowing for a clear understanding by all parties about the Olympic Candidature Process while also emphasising the importance for a fair and equal competition.  

Also during this phase the IOC will host an individual workshop for each Candidate City to provide information on Vision, Games Concept and Strategy with the purpose to aid the cities in building a solid Games concept aligned with their City and region’s long-term development plans.  

This phase culminates in the submission by the Candidate Cities of the “Candidature File Part 1” which is then analysed by the IOC Evaluation Commission’s working group on Vision, Games Concept & Strategy by providing a dashboard report to the IOC Executive Board (EB). The IOC EB then confirms the continuation of each Candidate City to the next Stage or addresses specific challenges a City may face and needs to reevaluate.  


This phase ensures that cities have the necessary legal and financial mechanisms in place to host the Olympic Games.  The IOC-appointed Evaluation Commission Working Group will focus on reviewing proposed governance structures, legal elements and political, private and public support for the project in order to determine the challenges and opportunities related to each project.

Learning Opportunities and TOK Stage 2

As in Stage 1 the IOC will host a workshop for the Candidate Cities in regard to Governance, Legal and Venue Funding. The IOC will also provide an additional workshop to relay individual feedback to each Candidate City in relation to their Stage 1 Submission and plans.

During this phase Cities will also take part in an Olympic Games observer programme which is an essential element of the IOC’s knowledge transfer and forms part of the Candidate Cities’ overall learning strategies. The Observer programme is a specifically tailored observer experience delivered to the Candidate Cities as well as future Organising Committees which allow behind the scenes Games access and learning.

Cities will also be invited to attend the Official Debrief of the Olympic Games which is a forum of exchange between the IOC, the past Games Host, current OCOGs and Candidate Cities.  The Debrief provides another excellent opportunity to learn best of practices from the previous Games Host  and reflects the IOC’s initiative to support and assist future Games Organisers and Candidate Cities through knowledge transfer, forming an integral part of the wider post-Games analysis and information collection. 

During Stage 2 Cities will submit their candidature file part 2 to the IOC which will be evaluated by the Evaluation Commissions Working Group. The dashboard report from the Evaluation Commission will be submitted to the IOC EB who will announce the cities transitioning to the third and final stage of the Process.  


This stage analyses how Candidate Cities will deliver the Games and ensure a sustainable legacy.  The IOC Evaluation Commission will focus on reviewing the Games operations to ensure successful delivery.  It will also review legacy planning and the Games experience for all stakeholders, with a focus on the athlete experience to determine the challenges and opportunities in the abovementioned areas.

Candidate Cities will submit during this phase the Candidature File Part 3, the final file submission therefore completing their full project dossier. The IOC Evaluation Commission will come together in its entirety to analyse the documentation presented by the cities and carry out on-site analysis of each Candidate City. The Commission’s findings will be published in the IOC Evaluation Commission Report which will clearly highlight the opportunities and challenges of each candidature. The report, which will be made public, will be provided to all IOC members, and will act as a crucial aid to the IOC members when electing the Host City.

During this stage the Candidate Cities will have the opportunity to present to the IOC membership at the Candidate City Briefing for IOC Members and Olympic International Federations (Summer or Winter, depending on the process). This is an excellent opportunity for both the cities to showcase their projects and for the IOC members and International Federations to ask questions and evaluate the technical aspects of each candidature.

Finally, during the Host City Election, the Candidate Cities will make a final presentation to the IOC Session and the IOC members vote by secret ballot and elect the host city. The newly elected host city then signs the Host City Contract with the IOC. 


The purpose of the Evaluation Commission is to analyse the Cities’ Candidature File Submissions. The Commission verifies the information presented by the Candidate Cities, studies the feasibility of the proposed plans, determines each city’s ability to deliver successful Games and assesses whether the Games would leave a positive legacy that meets the individual needs and long-term development plans of the respective city and region. To further strengthen the analysis, the Evaluation Commission visits each city during Stage 3 of the Olympic Candidature Process.

The Evaluation Commission publishes its Report which highlights the challenges and opportunities presented by each candidature as well as focusing on the sustainability and legacy proposals of each candidature.