The Olympic Games, an international sports competition, are held once every four years at a different site, where athletes from different nations compete against each other in a wide variety of sports. There are two classifications of Olympics, the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics. Through 1992 they were held in the same year, but beginning in 1994 they were rescheduled so that they are held in alternate even-numbered years. For example, the Winter Olympics were held in 1994 and the Summer Olympics in 1996. The Winter Olympics were next held in 1998 in Nagano, Japan, while the Summer Olympics will next occur in 2000 in Sydney, Australia.
The Olympic Games are administered by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. The IOC was created in Paris in 1894 as an independent committee selecting its own members but "to begin the process, however, Coubertin himself chose the first 15 members"(White 60). IOC members are officially considered to be "representatives from the IOC to their own nations, not delegates from their own countries to the IOC"(White 65). Most members are elected to the IOC after serving on the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of their own countries. The first IOC members were all from either Europe or the Americas, with the exception of one representative from New Zealand. Currently, members from European and North American countries still account for a majority of the IOC membership. IOC members must retire at the end of the year in which they reach the age of 80, unless they were elected before 1966, in which case they can serve for life.
The IOC oversees such functions as determining the site of the Olympic Games, the establishment of worldwide Olympic policies, and the negotiation of Olympic television broadcast rights. The IOC works closely with the NOCs and with the International Amateur Athletic Federation (the international governing body for track and field), and other international sports federations (ISFs) to organize the Olympics. The ISFs are responsible for the "international rules and regulations of the sports they govern"(Gary 22). The IOC president, who is chosen by IOC members, is assisted by an executive board, several vice presidents, and a number of IOC commissions. The IOC's first president, Demetrius VikÚlas of Greece (served 1894-1896), was succeeded by Coubertin himself (1896-1925). The other IOC presidents have been Count Henri de Baillet-Latour of Belgium (1925-1942), J. Sigfrid Edstr÷m of Sweden (1946-1952), Avery Brundage of the United States (1952-1972), Michael Morris, Lord Killanin, of Ireland (1972-1980), and Juan Antonio Samaranch of Spain (1980-) .
In order to host the Olympics, a city must submit a proposal to the IOC, and after all proposals have been submitted, the IOC will vote. If no city is successful in gaining a majority in the first vote, the city with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voting continues with successive rounds, until a majority winner is determined. Typically the Games are awarded several years in advance in the hopes of allowing the winning city adequate time to prepare for the Games. In selecting the site of the Olympic Games, the IOC considers a number of factors, mainly among them is which city has, or promises to build, the best facilities, and which organizing committee seems most likely to stage the Games effectively as well as efficiently. The IOC also considers which parts of the world have not yet hosted the Games. For instance, Tokyo, the host of the 1964 Summer Games, and Mexico City, the host of the 1968 Summer Games, "were chosen in part to popularize the Olympic movement in Asia and in Latin America"(Gorman 69). Because of the growing importance of television worldwide, the IOC in recent years has also taken into account the host city's time zone. Whenever the Games take place in the United States or Canada, American television networks are willing to pay significantly higher amounts for television rights because they can broadcast popular events live, in prime viewing hours.
Once the Games have been awarded, it is the responsibility of the local organizing committee-not the IOC or the NOC of the host city's country-to finance them. This is often done with a portion of the Olympic television revenues and with corporate sponsorships, ticket sales, and other smaller revenue sources, such