Humanities › Geography Cities and the Quest to Host the Olympics Games Share Flipboard Email Print Giant Olympic Rings Are Launched On The River Thames, London, 2012. Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images Geography Country Information Basics Physical Geography Political Geography Population Key Figures & Milestones Maps Urban Geography By Matt Rosenberg Matt Rosenberg Geography Expert M.A., Geography, California State University - Northridge B.A., Geography, University of California - Davis Matt Rosenberg is an award-winning geographer and the author of "The Handy Geography Answer Book" and "The Geography Bee Complete Preparation Handbook." Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on August 28, 2018 The first modern Olympics was held in Athens, Greece, in 1896. Since then, the Olympic Games have been held more than 50 times in cities in Europe, Asia, and North America. Although the first Olympic events were modest affairs, today they are multibillion-dollar events that require years of planning and politicking. How an Olympic City Is Chosen The Winter and Summer Olympics are governed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). This multinational organization chooses the host cities. The process begins nine years before the games are to be held when cities can begin lobbying the IOC. Over the next three years, each delegation must meet a series of goals to demonstrate that they have (or will have) the infrastructure and funding in place to host a successful Olympics. At the end of the three-year period, the IOC's member states vote on the finalist. Not all cities that want to host the games make it to this point in the bidding process, however. For example, Doha, Qatar, and Baku, Azerbaijan, two of the five cities seeking the 2020 Summer Olympics, were eliminated by the IOC midway through the selection process. Only Istanbul, Madrid, and Paris were finalists; Paris won. Even if a city is awarded the games, that doesn't mean that's where the Olympics will take place. Denver made a successful bid to host the 1976 Winter Olympics in 1970, but it wasn't long before local political leaders began rallying against the event, citing the cost and potential environmental impact. In 1972, the Denver Olympic bid had been sidelined, and the games were awarded to Innsbruck, Austria, instead. Fun Facts About Host Cities The Olympics have been held in more than 40 cities since the first modern games were held. Here is some more trivia about the Olympics and their hosts. The first modern Summer Olympics in Athens in 1896 took place just four years after Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin proposed them. The event featured only about 250 athletes from 13 nations competing in nine sports. The first Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix, France, in 1924. Sixteen nations competed that year, with just five sports total. The Summer and Winter Games were held every four years in the same year. In 1992, the IOC altered the schedule so that they would alternate every two years. Seven cities have hosted the Olympic Games more than once: Athens; Paris; London; St. Moritz, Switzerland; Lake Placid, New York; Los Angeles; and Innsbruck, Austria. London is the only city to have hosted the Olympics three times. Paris will become the next city to do so when it hosts the 2024 Summer Games. Beijing, which hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008, will host the Winter Olympics in 2020, making it the first city to do so. The U.S. has hosted eight Olympic Games, more than any other nation. It will next host the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028. Brazil is the only nation in South America to have hosted the Olympics. Africa is the only continent not to have hosted the Games. World War I prevented the 1916 Olympics from being held in Berlin. World War II forced the cancellation of Olympics scheduled for Tokyo; London; Sapporo, Japan; and Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, which cost an estimated $51 billion, was the most expensive Games of all time. Summer Olympic Games Sites 1896: Athens, Greece1900: Paris, France1904: St. Louis, United States1908: London, United Kingdom1912: Stockholm, Sweden1916: Scheduled for Berlin, Germany1920: Antwerp, Belgium1924: Paris, France1928: Amsterdam, Netherlands1932: Los Angeles, United States1936: Berlin, Germany1940: Scheduled for Tokyo, Japan1944: Scheduled for London, United Kingdom1948: London, United Kingdom1952: Helsinki, Finland1956: Melbourne, Australia1960: Rome, Italy1964: Tokyo, Japan1968: Mexico City, Mexico1972: Munich, West Germany (now Germany)1976: Montreal, Canada1980: Moscow, U.S.S.R. (now Russia)1984: Los Angeles, United States1988: Seoul, South Korea1992: Barcelona, Spain1996: Atlanta, United States2000: Sydney, Australia2004: Athens, Greece2008: Beijing, China2012: London, United Kingdom2016: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil2020: Tokyo, Japan Winter Olympic Games Sites 1924: Chamonix, France1928: St. Moritz, Switzerland1932: Lake Placid, New York, United States1936: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany1940: Scheduled for Sapporo, Japan1944: Scheduled for Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy1948: St. Moritz, Switzerland1952: Oslo, Norway1956: Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy1960: Squaw Valley, California, United States1964: Innsbruck, Austria1968: Grenoble, France1972: Sapporo, Japan1976: Innsbruck, Austria1980: Lake Placid, New York, United States1984: Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia and Herzegovina)1988: Calgary, Alberta, Canada1992: Albertville, France1994: Lillehammer, Norway1998: Nagano, Japan2002: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States2006: Torino (Turin), Italy2010: Vancouver, Canada2014: Sochi, Russia2018: Pyeongchang, South Korea2022: Beijing, China Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Rosenberg, Matt. "Cities and the Quest to Host the Olympics Games." ThoughtCo, Jul. 30, 2021, thoughtco.com/olympic-game-cities-1434453. Rosenberg, Matt. (2021, July 30). Cities and the Quest to Host the Olympics Games. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/olympic-game-cities-1434453 Rosenberg, Matt. "Cities and the Quest to Host the Olympics Games." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/olympic-game-cities-1434453 (accessed March 21, 2023). copy citation Watch Now: Which cities will host the future Olympic games?