U.S. Olympic Host Cities
The selection of a city as a host for the Olympic summer and winter games is a highly competitive process managed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Prospective host cities must submit written proposals through their nation's IOC representatives, and then they must answer a questionnaire from the IOC. The IOC then votes on which city will be the host for the next Olympic Games, with one city selected to host the winter games, and another city, usually but not always in another nation, selected to host the summer games. So far six cities in the United States have been selected as hosts for the games. These cities were Los Angeles, CA in the summers of 1932 and 1984, Squaw Valley, CA in 1960, Atlanta, GA in 1996, St. Louis, MO in 1904, Lake Placid, NY in the winters of 1932 and 1980, and Salt Lake, UT in 2002.
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles has been the host to two summer Olympics games. These were the Xth Olympiad in 1932 and the XXIII Olympiad in 1984. In 1932, Los Angeles was the only city to bid as a potential host for the games, and as a result the city won by default. The Xth Olympiad was the first time that an Olympic Village was constructed for the athletes, and the first time that a three-level victory podium was used to celebrate the three medal winners in every event. United States President Herbert Hoover declined to attend, however Vice President Charles Curtis was there for the opening ceremony. Thirty seven nations and 1,332 athletes participated in 116 events at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. The XXIII Olympiad was opened by President Ronald Reagan, and featured 140 nations, with 6,829 athletes participating in 221 events, again at the Memorial Coliseum. The Soviet Union boycotted the games in favor of the 1986 Goodwill Games.
Squaw Valley, California
The privilege of hosting the VIII Olympic Winter Games was awarded to Squaw Valley by the IOC in 1955. By the time the event was held in 1960, $80 million was spent to build the site, the Olympic athletes' village, and the roads to service the area. In 2010, this would have amounted to over half a billion dollars, when inflation is factored in. Richard Nixon, who was Vice President at the time, opened the games, in which 665 athletes attended from 30 countries. There were 27 events. Walt Disney produced the opening and closing ceremonies, and CBS won exclusive broadcasting rights. Squaw Valley nearly lost the privilege of hosting the VIII Winter Olympiad due to the United States government threatening to deny entry of athletes from Communist nations. The VIII games saw the birth of the Winter Biathlon event, in which competitors both engage in a ski race and a precision shooting competition.
The 1996 Summer Olympics, also known as the XXVI Olympiad, was hosted by Atlanta, Georgia, at the Centennial Olympic Stadium. The games were stalked by a number of minor controversies, most notably overcrowding at the Olympic village and allegations that the games were overly commercialized. Tragedy struck at the games, when a bomb exploded at the Centennial Olympic Park, where the games were hosted, killing two and injuring over 100. President Bill Clinton opened the event, in which 10,320 athletes from 197 nations participated in 271 events at the Centennial Olympic Stadium.
St. Louis, Missouri
In 1904, the III Olympiad came to St. Louis, Missouri, where it competed with the 1904 World's Fair for attention. The first Olympic games ever held in the United States were opened by David Francis, who was the President of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. The Louisiana Purchase Exposition was also running the World's Fair, which was occurring at the same time and in the same location. Some of the 651 participants were natives from other nations who came to star in the “Anthropology Days” exhibits. Their participation in the Olympics was marred by language problems and cultural differences, and their presence was largely a cynical plot to pit them against Caucasians to show the superiority of Caucasian athletes. The Olympic Games were a secondary attraction to the World's Fair exhibits, and as a result did not achieve much prominence. While 12 nations attended, most of the 91 Olympics events only featured Americans. The III Olympiad was so poorly run that it nearly spelled the end of the Olympics. Despite these obstacles, the III summer games contributed a number of additional events that are part of the Olympic games. These events were a series of ten track and field races called the decathlon, boxing, weight lifting, and freestyle wrestling.
Lake Placid, New York
Like Los Angeles, Lake Placid in New York served twice as the host for the Olympic Games. In their case it was the III Winter Olympiad in 1932 and the XIII Winter Olympiad in 1980. The III winter Olympiad was the first time a United States city served as a host for the winter Olympic Games. Like with the games in Los Angeles later that year, President Hoover did not attend the III winter Olympiad, and the games were opened by Governor and future President Franklin D Roosevelt. Two hundred and fifty two athletes from 17 countries participated in 14 events at the Lake Placid Speedskating Oval. Vice President Walter Mondale opened the XIII Winter Olympiad, held in the same city, which saw 1,072 athletes from 37 nations participating in 38 events at the Lake Placid Equestrian Stadium.
Salt Lake City, Utah
The XIX Olympic Winter Games brought 2,399 athletes from 77 countries to compete in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2002. United States President George W Bush opened the games, which were held at the Rice-Eccles Stadium. There were 78 events in 15 different sports during the XIX Games. It was the first time that the winter games were opened by a United States President. Controversy broke out four years before the games when members of the IOC were discovered to have taken bribes from the Salt Lake Olympic Committee (SLOC) to influence their votes. In addition, gay rights groups attempted to stop the hosting of the Olympics in Salt Lake City because Utah had previously passed a law banning gay marriage.