The host city for the 2024 Olympic Games will be chosen at the IOC Session in Lima, Peru, on 13 September 2017. The three remaining host cities are Paris, France; Los Angeles, California, USA; and Budapest, Hungary. Previous bids had been received by Hamburg, Germany, and Roma, Italy, but both cities withdrew – Hamburg after a citizen’s referendum, and Roma after new mayor Virginia Raggi refused to support the bid. Boston, Massachusetts was the original US Candidate City but withdrew in July 2015, after a lack of support from the city mayor and significant opposition from a group called NoBostonOlympics.
So we are left with three bidding cities, as pundents ponder proliferating Olympic costs, and wonder if any cities will soon be left to bid for Olympic Games. Of these three cities, all have bid before, multiple times for each in fact, so let’s look at how they have done.
As a quick summary, not one of the remaining cities – Paris, LA, Budapest – has ever won an election to host an Olympics against other cities. That is despite the fact that Paris has hosted the 1900 and 1924 Olympics and Los Angeles has hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics.
This is the 7th time Paris has bid for the Olympics. In 1900 there were no real elections, as the nascent IOC simply awarded the Games to Paris, shortly after they decided on Athina to host the 1896 Olympics Games, the first of the modern era. In 1924, Paris was again selected as the host city, but this time, it was done by IOC acclamation in deference to Pierre, Baron de Coubertin, the founder of the IOC and modern Olympic Games, who was planning on retiring as IOC President at the end of the 1924 Olympics. As he was a Parisian, the 1924 Olympics were given to Paris in his honor.
There were two other bids in 1924, from Amsterdam and Los Angeles. It has been suggested that one possibility for 2024 is that the IOC might award 2024 to Paris and 2028 to Los Angeles, at one sitting (or possibly vice-versa). In 1921, at the IOC Session that selected the 1924 host city, the IOC did just that – awarding 1924 to Paris and 1928 to Amsterdam. Los Angeles was shunted to the side, in effect, but only 2 years later, 1923, well in advance of when host cities were then chosen (about 3 years before the Olympics), Los Angeles was given host city honors for the 1932 Olympics, by acclamation, with no opposition.
Paris bid again for the Olympics in 1956, but it was only for the Equestrian Competitions. The 1956 Olympics were awarded to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, but soon thereafter, Australia notified the IOC that because of national quarantine restrictions, horses would have to be kept in the country for six months before they could compete, which eliminated the possibility of equestrian events being held in Australia. A separate Equestrian Olympics was planned for earlier in the Northern Hemisphere summer, and a bid ensued, with Stockholm, Sweden eventually being chosen, and hosting, the Equestrian Olympics. Paris placed 2nd in the bid election.
Paris then sat out a few Olympics, but it bid again for 1992, for 2008, and 2012, each time being defeated. It came in 2nd in 1992 to Barcelona, Spain; 3rd in 2008 to Beijing, China, and Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and 2nd in 2012 to London, England.
Thus Paris has bid for Olympic Games 6 previous times, and has twice hosted the Olympics, but has never defeated another city in an election for the honor to host the Olympics.
So how about Los Angeles, which has also hosted the Olympics twice, in 1932 and 1984? As noted above, Los Angeles was given the 1932 hosting rights by acclamation at the 1923 IOC Session. There was no effective election, as there were no opposing cities. It had already lost tentative bids for 1924 and 1928 after those Games were awarded, also by acclamation, to Paris and Amsterdam.
Los Angeles is persistent. It bid again in 1948, 1952, and 1956, and also for the 1956 Equestrian Games. In 1948, London was given the Olympics by a postal vote in 1946, at the end of World War II. In 1952 Los Angeles was eliminated in the final round of voting, losing to Helsinki, although it tied for second with Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, who also bid. In that era, more than one city from a nation could bid, and this happened several times for US cities. In 1956, LA lost out in the penultimate round of voting, with Melbourne then being chosen over Buenos Aires. And for the 1956 Horsey Olympics, LA finished equal last of 5 bid cities, tying with Berlin, as Stockhom won.
Los Angeles did not quit. It bid again for 1976, eliminated in the first round, as Montréal, Québec, Canada was chosen over Moskva, Soviet Union. It bid again for 1980, losing again to Moskva, the only other candidate city. And finally for 1984, it won the right to host the Olympic Games again. But it defeated no other city to do so.
The election for the 1984 Olympics was scheduled for the 1978 IOC Session in Lausanne, Switzerland. Only one other city made an early bid, that being Teheran, Iran, but it withdrew before the IOC Session. This was at the time of the 1978 Iranian Revolution that ousted the Shah of Iran, and Iran was in no position to host an Olympic Games.
So in 1978, the IOC had no choice but to award the 1984 Olympics to Los Angeles, or so it seemed. At the 1978 IOC Session, the 1984 Olympics were tentatively awarded to Los Angeles, with the restriction that it adhere to the rules of the Olympic Charter. As documented in the biography of then IOC President Lord Killanin, My Olympic Years, Los Angeles had no concern for the Olympic Charter.
Specifically, Los Angeles was not going to sign a contract, as required, that demanded that the host city absorb any losses from the hosting of the Olympics. This was shortly after the debacle of Montréal in 1976, when it went deeply in debt to host the Olympics, and shortly after boycotts of 1972 (threatened) and 1976, and hosting an Olympics was on no cities’ short lists, somewhat similar to 2017.
The IOC had no choice. They had no other candidate city for 1984. The US Olympic Committee stepped up and agreed that they would co-underwrite any possible cost overruns, although where that money would come from is unknown. By a postal vote, with a deadline date of 7 October 1978, Los Angeles was approved as host city for the 1984 Olympics – 75 votes for, 3 against, and 6 abstentions. But again, it did not defeat another city in an election, similar to Paris.
That is 10 previous bids by Los Angeles, and 0 cities defeated in an election to host the Olympic Games.
Finally we come to Budapest. It should be noted that Hungary has probably the deepest Olympic history of any nation that has not hosted an Olympics. It was present at the 1894 Sorbonne Congress that restored the modern Olympic Games. It had one of the original 15 IOC Members in Ferenc Kémeny. And Budapest has bid 4 previous times for the Olympic Games.
Budapest was one of 6 candidate cities in 1916, when Berlin was selected by acclamation for an Olympics that was never held, because of World War I. It bid again in 1919, along with 7 other cities, to host the 1920 Olympics, which were awarded to Anterp, Belgium, only one year before those Olympics. In 1940, it was one of 14 cities (that is not a typo) that bid for the Olympics, but only Tokyo and Helsinki came to a final vote, with Tokyo winning. The Games were again not held, with Tokyo relinquishing its host duties on 16 July 1938, with Helsinki standing in, only to turn down the chance when World War II made it obvious no Olympics would be held.
Budapest did not quit. (One thing that can be said of these 3 cities bidding for 2024 is that they are doggedly persistent.) It bid again for 1960, but was eliminated in the second round, receiving only 1 vote, as Roma was chosen in round three.
And now Budapest bids again for 2024, along with Paris and Los Angeles. Three cities. A total to date of 20 previous Olympic candidatures. A total of 4 Olympics hosted, 2 by Paris and 2 by Los Angeles. A total of 0 elections won, standing against other cities. Interesting choices. Interesting times.