Every Olympic city, mapped

Globe featuring Africa

The continent forgotten by the IOC.


On the heels of the IOC announcement that Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympic games, I thought I’d put together a map of all the cities to host the Olympics since the beginning of the modern Olympic movement in 1896. In the map below, cities with a red label hosted the Summer Games, and cities with a blue label hosted the Winter Games. Future host cities are included on this map, but cities that were scheduled and later cancelled (Berlin in 1916, Tokyo and Sapporo in 1940, and London and Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1944) are not included.

You’ll probably note some patterns. An African city has yet to host the Olympics; likewise for the Middle-East. South America will host its first Olympics in 2016, and Asian Olympic cities are clustered around the Korean peninsula.

If we group cities by continent, we get the following numbers:

Continent Cities Share
Europe 24 55.81%
North America 10 23.26%
Asia 6 13.95%
Oceania 2 4.65%
South America 1 2.33%
 Africa 0 0
Totals 43 100%

But those figures don’t account for the cities that have hosted the Olympics multiple times. When we factor that into it, the numbers are as follows:

Continent Hostings Share
Europe 31 58.49%
North America 12 22.64%
Asia 7 13.21%
Oceania 2 3.77%
South America 1 1.89%
Africa 0 0
Totals 53 100%

These numbers are basically the same if we break them down into Summer and Winter cities/hostings. Regardless of how you break it down, Europe ends up around 55-60%, followed by North America (20-25%), Asia (13-15%), Oceania (0-9%), and South America (0-4%). Of note is the fact that the Winter Olympics has only taken place in Europe, North America, and Asia.

The IOC seems to be trying to diversify the location of its host cities over the last several years, so if I had to guess where the Summer Olympics might be headed, I’d pick Africa and Asia. For the Winter Olympics I’d target South America and Oceania. Here is a list of possible candidates from those areas:

Algiers, Algeria Africa Summer
Durban, South Africa Africa Summer
Johannesburg, South Africa Africa Summer
Tunis, Tunisia Africa Summer
Almaty, Kazakhstan Asia Either
Ankara, Turkey Asia Either
Baku, Azerbaijan Asia Summer
Delhi, India Asia Summer
Doha, Qatar Asia Summer
Dubai, UAE Asia Summer
Hong Kong, China Asia Summer
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Asia Summer
Singapore Asia Summer
Taipei, Taiwan Asia Summer
Istanbul, Turkey Europe/Asia Either
Auckland, New Zealand Oceania Summer
Christchurch, New Zealand Oceania Winter
Perth, Australia Oceania Summer
Buenos Aires, Argentina South America Summer
Mendoza, Argentina South America Winter
Santiago, Chile South America Either

I’ve also added these cities onto the map above — simply check the box next to “Possible Olympic Candidates” to display them.

Keeping in mind that weather, political stability, and human rights are significant considerations when it comes to Olympic hosts, can you think of any other candidates? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

– Devin

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