At every Summer Olympic Games (well, except St Louis in 1904 – a lot of stuff was different at St Louis), there are a few – and often a lot – of events that take part away from the host city.
Usually this is for practical reasons (like sailing, you gotta have that water for that sailing or people WILL GET HURT), or to make use of better existing facilities (riding, rowing, canoeing and shooting often fall into this trap – that’s a shooting joke of course). Sometimes though, it’s simply to spread Olympic joy further around the host country. This is mostly done with football during recent Games. A total of 57 cities in all have hosted Olympic football, some many hundreds of miles from the heart of the games.
In total, having undertaken a digital wandering across the planet (well, the part of it they’re willing to host the Olympics in anyway), I’ve found 117 different towns/cities/locations that have played host to official Summer Olympic events away from the host city itself.
Of course, working out what is and isn’t in the host city isn’t an exact science (LA and Tokyo are especially fiddly blobs of never-ending cityscape), but I’ve tried to only include places that are not obviously in the host city or its outer limits. Or at least places where it would be stretching it, and a bit annoying, to tell people you lived in a host city if, for example, you actually lived in Aldershot (location of equestrian and modern pentathlon during London 1948).
In smaller countries, and for smaller cities those places creep closer than they do for the aforementioned London, LA, or Tokyo. I’ve tried to stay consistent, I may have failed dismally. But hey, I’ve tried.
As an aside, I missed out additional locations that were taken in only during meandering cycling events and the marathon unless the entire race took place away from the host city.
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The 117 locations break down as:
- 13 sailing locations
- 57 football venues
- 47 locations for all other events.
On the map (linked below, I will make you read to the end to find it), the sailing and football venues are separated out on different layers. Football because there are so many of them, and the approach is explicitly to move the event around. Sailing because some cities can’t really help not being by the sea. The rest, are a brilliant mix of random.
SOME EXTRA INFO
If you’re the kind of person that’s reading this website entirely of your own volition, then you’ll probably appreciate this kind of extra info. It’s the kind of detail that marks an Olympic nerd from an Olympic geek. And let’s face it, if you’re enjoying this you’re both…
There are Olympic host cities over the years that have played host to events in years other than the year in which they were the host. I haven’t detailed these on the map because that’s not what the map is for (though I have included all host cities for reference), but for completeness, the locations in this category are:
- Melbourne: host to football during Sydney’s 2000 games
- Amsterdam: host to sailing during the Antwerp 1920 games
- And, maybe most well known… the equestrian events for the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 that took place in Stockholm due to quarantine regulations in Australia.
EXTRA EXTRA INFO
- St Louis is the only Summer games to take place entirely in the host city (this was helped dramatically by not having any sailing events)
- Brussels, Belgium; Augsburg, Germany & Athens GA, USA played host to three separate events when posing as Olympic venues, which is frankly greedy. Several other locations hosted two events (usually canoeing and rowing, or shooting/equestrian along with Modern Pentathlon)
- Tallinn in Estonia hosted the sailing for the Moscow 1980 games while Minsk (Belarus) and Kiev (Ukraine) hosted football matches. While all were part of the mighty USSR during 1980 they now exist in countries that are not Russia. This means Estonia, Belarus and Ukraine have hosted an Olympic event but the games have never actually been held in their country.
- Karuizawa, Japan hosted the equestrian events during the Tokyo Olympics. While this was great for the horse lovers of the area, it was more great for the townsfolk decades later when it also hosted the curling events during the Nagano winter games. That makes Karuizawa the only city to host both a winter and summer olympic event. Cold horses and toasty curling stones are presumably on all postcards in the area. Karuizawa will sadly lose their unique record in 2022 when Beijing will host the winter games 14 years after hosting the Summer games.
Click on each location to get a short run-down of what happened at each outpost (and in some cases, marvel at which host city it was involved with).