Host City Contract Phase

Host City Contract Phase


Hey Guys,

Do you remember a post I wrote a couple of months ago, about the first part of the process to become the city that will host the Olympic Games? Well, I essentially told you about how typically the bidding process takes place.

Today, I’m going to explain the next step in the organisation of the Olympic Games. Once the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announces the winning city, the next step is for the Host City Contract (HCC) to be drafted and signed by a number of parties.

Briefly explained, the HCC is the legal document that establishes the conditions under which the Olympic Games execution responsibilities are transferred. The IOC is the exclusive proprietor of the Olympic Games and everything it involves. 

According to Marrero-Guillamón (2012:22), the IOC owns ‘all rights and data relating thereto, in particular, and without limitations, all rights relating to their organisation, exploitation, broadcasting, recording, representation, reproduction, access and dissemination in any form and by any means or mechanism whatsoever, whether now existing or developed in the future‘.

In this context, the HCC has to be signed by the IOC, the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of the respective country and the host city (Borowick, 2012). For example, for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the HCC was signed on the 7th of September 2013. 

Once signed, the NOC and host city are in charge of forming an Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (OCOG). That is, ‘an entity endowed with legal personality under the laws of the Host Country’ (Grell, 2017). For the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) and the host city formed the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG). Afterwards, this entity has to comply and agree to all the HCC conditions, by becoming ‘a party to the agreement’ (Borowick, 2012:140).

As a result, each party will be attributed a specific set of responsibilities. The NOC will be focused on sport-related issues. The OCOG will have to manage all the operational affairs, in terms of venues, athletes, etc. The host city, for instance, will have to create the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA). The ODA will be ‘responsible for the delivery of the public services, such as the provision of infrastructures’ (Gauthier 2017:66).

So, as you can see, the HCC is an essential step in the Olympic Games organisation. Mega-events research has shown that signing the HCC demands the imposition of several temporary laws (Duignan et al., 2019; Duignan et al., 2020; McGillivray et al., 2019). The problem with these temporary laws is that they do not intend to protect the host community and their interests. On the IOC’s perspective, both the HCC and temporary laws aim to protect the interests of several crucial sponsors (Smith, 2014). 

Therefore, as many have, one could argue that the Olympic Games organisation prioritises international entities’ interests over the host community’s (Horne and Manzenreiter, 2006). Yet, this is a debate for another day because it involves a whole other set of concepts, like the state of exception.

Now, I think everyone is asking what happens after signing the HCC? Well, the planning and implementation phase starts, which usually takes years and years. So, next time I’ll tell you all about how the planning and implementation phase relate to the state of exception and all the debates regarding interest/power.



Borowick, J. (2012). ‘The Olympic Host City Contract: Achieving Relational and Referential Efficiencies to Deliver the Best Games Ever’, Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal, 12(1), 126-170.

Duignan, M. B., Pappalepore, I., and Everett, S. (2019). ‘The ‘summer of discontent’: Exclusion and communal resistance at the London 2012 Olympics’, Tourism Management, 70, 355–367. 

Duignan, M., Down, S., and O’Brien, D. (2020). ‘Entrepreneurial leveraging in liminoidal olympic transit zones’, Annals of Tourism Research, 80.

Gauthier, R. (2017). The International Olympic Committee, Law, and Accountability. Abingdon: Routledge.

Grell, T. (2017). ‘Asser International Sports Law Blog | The Olympic Games and Human Rights – Part I: Introduction to the Host City Contract – By Tomáš Grell’. Asser International Sports Law Blog. [online] available from: < i-introduction-to-the-host-city-contract-by-tomas-grell#_ftn22> [22 June 2019].

Horne, J., and Manzenreiter, W. (2006). ‘An introduction to the sociology of sports mega‐events’, The Sociological Review, 54(2), 1–24.

Marrero-Guillamón, I. (2012). ‘Olympic state of exception’, The Art of Dissent: Adventures in London’s Olympic State, 20-29.

McGillivray, D., Duignan, M., and Mielke, E. (2019). ‘Mega sport events and spatial management: zoning space across Rio’s 2016 Olympic city’, Annals of Leisure Research, 1-24.


Further Reading:

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Host City Contract:

Boykoff, J. (2014). Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games. Abingdon: Routledge.

McLaren, R. (2012) “2012 London Olympics: Dispute Resolution in a Commercial Context”. Business Law International, 13(2), 123-142.



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About Me

Portuguese, from Lisbon, 23 years old. PhD student with dyslexia and ADHD. Impossible? Not a chance. Hard working? Pretty much. Frustrating? Some times, but it turns out that it strengthens you. Rewarding? Each achievement over the years felt like a victory. Now, here I am, on the most challenging step until now, the PhD. So, bear with me, with all of me, as I continue to follow my passion for mega-events and cars.

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