The Olympic Games is a unique and complex project, and its size, scope and complexity are like no other. For this reason, for a city to host successful Olympic Games, many years of careful and precise planning are required, with all of the relevant organisations, authorities and stakeholders working together.
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 bid process is launched nine years before and lasts for a period of two years. The National Olympic Committee (NOC) of the country concerned puts forward the name of a city to the IOC, with each NOC entitled to put forward only one city located within its territory. The actual work on putting together an Olympic bid often begins many years before this, with city, regional and national authorities working hard with the NOC to prepare its Olympic project. In some cases the NOC even carries out its own selection process from a number of interested cities within its own country.
The two-year bid process is split into two phases (each lasting approximately one year) and is governed by the Olympic Charter (Rule 33 and its bye-law):
- Phase I: Applicant Phase
- Phase II : Candidature Phase
During Phase I, the Applicant Cities are required to answer an IOC questionnaire and submit their answers, called an Application File, to the IOC. The Application File is then studied by an IOC-appointed Working Group. This Group, which includes representatives of various Olympic stakeholders such as the International Federations (IFs), the National Olympic Committees and the IOC Athletes’ Commission, carries out a detailed risk assessment and makes a thorough and detailed report to the IOC Executive Board, which is then responsible for selecting the cities that will advance to Phase II. The cities selected become Candidate Cities.
The Candidate Cities are required to answer the second-phase IOC questionnaire and submit much more detailed plans to the IOC which are contained in a Candidature File (a city’s blueprint for the Olympic Games). The Candidature File is accompanied by a substantial number of legally binding guarantee letters. The areas covered in the Candidature File are vast and range from the Olympic Village, transport, security and accommodation to sports and venues, the environment, marketing and many more.
The Candidature File and accompanying documents are analysed by an IOC Evaluation Commission which, like the Phase I Working Group, also includes representatives of various Olympic stakeholders such as the IFs, NOCs and the IOC Athletes’ Commission, as well as the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The Commission pays an on-site visit to each city and produces an important risk assessment report which is provided to all IOC members, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of all the cities.
Election of the Host City
The Candidate Cities deliver a number of presentations during the second phase of the bid process, and the final presentation is given on the election day to the IOC members. Following the presentations and a report given by the Evaluation Commission Chair, the IOC members vote and take the important decision of electing the host city. The newly elected host city then signs the Host City Contract with the IOC.