8 Snubbed Olympic Cities that Sports Fans Will Love

by ShermansTravel Editorial Staff

8 Snubbed Olympic Cities that Sports Fans Will Love

by ShermansTravel Editorial Staff

These eight cities may never have never won their Olympic bids (though not for lack of trying), but they still offer rich and unique sporting experiences where sports fans can get a taste of Olympic history and spirit.

These eight cities may never have never won their Olympic bids (though not for lack of trying), but they still offer rich and unique sporting experiences where sports fans can get a taste of Olympic history and spirit.

8
Buenos Aires / AdonisVillanueva/iStock
Lusanne, Switzerland
1 of 8
Lausanne, Switzerland

Attempts: 1944, 1948, 1960

Olympic Connection: One reason Lausanne has been passed over as a host city is that it has served as the headquarters for the International Olympic Committee since 1915, gaining the title of “Olympic Capital” in 1994. It is also home to the Olympic Museum, which houses the largest archive of Olympic Games in the world, including displays of Olympic torches and medals.

Get Your Sports Fix: Take your pick from soccer, played in Olympic Stadium (July to May, with a winter break), hockey (September to April), and volleyball (October to April). Lausanne also regularly hosts national and international sporting events, such as the Athletissima international track and field tournament.

Attempts: 1944, 1948, 1960

Olympic Connection: One reason Lausanne has been passed over as a host city is that it has served as the headquarters for the International Olympic Committee since 1915, gaining the title of “Olympic Capital” in 1994. It is also home to the Olympic Museum, which houses the largest archive of Olympic Games in the world, including displays of Olympic torches and medals.

Get Your Sports Fix: Take your pick from soccer, played in Olympic Stadium (July to May, with a winter break), hockey (September to April), and volleyball (October to April). Lausanne also regularly hosts national and international sporting events, such as the Athletissima international track and field tournament.

Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan
2 of 8
Detroit

Attempts: 1944, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972

Olympic Connection: Detroit has produced many Olympic champions, including sprinter Eddie Tolan, who, in 1932, became the first African American to earn two gold medals.

Get Your Sports Fix: Love baseball? See the Tigers play in Comerica Park, a gorgeous stadium that joined the city’s downtown in 2000. Ford Field hosted the Super Bowl in 2006 and is the home of the Lions. Both stadiums offer guided tours to the public.

Attempts: 1944, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972

Olympic Connection: Detroit has produced many Olympic champions, including sprinter Eddie Tolan, who, in 1932, became the first African American to earn two gold medals.

Get Your Sports Fix: Love baseball? See the Tigers play in Comerica Park, a gorgeous stadium that joined the city’s downtown in 2000. Ford Field hosted the Super Bowl in 2006 and is the home of the Lions. Both stadiums offer guided tours to the public.

Istanbul, Turkey
3 of 8
Istanbul

Attempts: 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2020

Olympic Connection: Every July since 1989, Istanbul has hosted the Bosphorus Cross-Continental 4-mile swimming and kayaking races, which is overseen by the International Olympic Committee and the National Olympic Committee of Turkey.

Get Your Sports Fix: Built for the failed 2008 Olympics bid, Ataturk Olympic Stadium—Turkey’s largest sports venue—underwent an overhaul in preparation for the 2020 bid. Catch a soccer game there, or at the 52,650-seat Turk Telekom Arena, where the Guinness World Records awarded the “loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium” (131.76 decibels!) on March 18, 2011 (though it has since been topped). 

Attempts: 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2020

Olympic Connection: Every July since 1989, Istanbul has hosted the Bosphorus Cross-Continental 4-mile swimming and kayaking races, which is overseen by the International Olympic Committee and the National Olympic Committee of Turkey.

Get Your Sports Fix: Built for the failed 2008 Olympics bid, Ataturk Olympic Stadium—Turkey’s largest sports venue—underwent an overhaul in preparation for the 2020 bid. Catch a soccer game there, or at the 52,650-seat Turk Telekom Arena, where the Guinness World Records awarded the “loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium” (131.76 decibels!) on March 18, 2011 (though it has since been topped). 

Boathouse Row, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
4 of 8
Philadelphia

Attempts: 1920, 1948, 1952, 1956, 2016

Olympic Connection: One of five U.S. finalists for the 2016 Games, the City of Brotherly Love is the birthplace of NBA star Kobe Bryant, who helped bring home gold in 2008, and Glenn Ochal, the 6’5” rower who took the bronze in 2012 games.

Get Your Sports Fix: Philly’s 19th-century Boathouse Row on the Schuylkill River is a testament to the city’s passion for boat races. View the largest collegiate regatta in the U.S., the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta, held every May, from scenic Fairmount Park. Further south, track and field fans gather in April for the Penn Relay Carnival at University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field. Relay participants have won gold medals in every modern summer Games (except Moscow in 1980, which the U.S. boycotted).

Attempts: 1920, 1948, 1952, 1956, 2016

Olympic Connection: One of five U.S. finalists for the 2016 Games, the City of Brotherly Love is the birthplace of NBA star Kobe Bryant, who helped bring home gold in 2008, and Glenn Ochal, the 6’5” rower who took the bronze in 2012 games.

Get Your Sports Fix: Philly’s 19th-century Boathouse Row on the Schuylkill River is a testament to the city’s passion for boat races. View the largest collegiate regatta in the U.S., the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta, held every May, from scenic Fairmount Park. Further south, track and field fans gather in April for the Penn Relay Carnival at University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field. Relay participants have won gold medals in every modern summer Games (except Moscow in 1980, which the U.S. boycotted).

Madrid, Spain
5 of 8
Madrid

Attempts: 1972, 2012, 2016, 2020

Olympic Connection: Madrid hoped to step out of the shadow of Barcelona’s Olympic rings (which hosted the Summer Games in 1992), and was a finalist for the 2020 Summer Games. The majority of the venues needed for Madrid’s 2020 bid already existed (with plans to hold cycling trials in the city streets, sailing in the Port of Valencia, and tennis in the Caja Mágica). Lucky for us, we can still visit.

Get Your Sports Fix: Head to Estadio Santiago Bernabéu to catch a Real Madrid soccer match. The second-largest stadium in Spain has hosted sporting events since 1947 and can seat more than 85,000 spectators. If basketball is more your speed, make your way to Palacio de Deportes de la Comunidad de Madrid, officially WiZink Center, to watch the Real Madrid basketball club.  

Attempts: 1972, 2012, 2016, 2020

Olympic Connection: Madrid hoped to step out of the shadow of Barcelona’s Olympic rings (which hosted the Summer Games in 1992), and was a finalist for the 2020 Summer Games. The majority of the venues needed for Madrid’s 2020 bid already existed (with plans to hold cycling trials in the city streets, sailing in the Port of Valencia, and tennis in the Caja Mágica). Lucky for us, we can still visit.

Get Your Sports Fix: Head to Estadio Santiago Bernabéu to catch a Real Madrid soccer match. The second-largest stadium in Spain has hosted sporting events since 1947 and can seat more than 85,000 spectators. If basketball is more your speed, make your way to Palacio de Deportes de la Comunidad de Madrid, officially WiZink Center, to watch the Real Madrid basketball club.  

Buenos Aires soccer stadium, Argentina
6 of 8
Buenos Aires

Attempts: 1956, 1968, 2004

Olympic Connection: Buenos Aires may have never hosted the Olympics, but Argentine José Benjamín Zubiaur, an educator and advocate of physical education, was one of the 15 members that made up the first International Olympic Committee in 1894. The city did host the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.

Get Your Sports Fix: With two Olympic gold medals in football, and a couple of FIFA World Cup trophies, it’s hard to imagine soccer in Argentina as anything less than the national religion. Experience the fervor by attending a Boca Juniors game, Buenos Aires’ local team, where rabid fans blow horns, chant songs, and wave flags throughout the 90-minute matches. Then tour the Walk of Glory, a sculpture trail dedicated to Argentina’s sporting greats.

Attempts: 1956, 1968, 2004

Olympic Connection: Buenos Aires may have never hosted the Olympics, but Argentine José Benjamín Zubiaur, an educator and advocate of physical education, was one of the 15 members that made up the first International Olympic Committee in 1894. The city did host the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.

Get Your Sports Fix: With two Olympic gold medals in football, and a couple of FIFA World Cup trophies, it’s hard to imagine soccer in Argentina as anything less than the national religion. Experience the fervor by attending a Boca Juniors game, Buenos Aires’ local team, where rabid fans blow horns, chant songs, and wave flags throughout the 90-minute matches. Then tour the Walk of Glory, a sculpture trail dedicated to Argentina’s sporting greats.

Havana, Cuba
7 of 8
Havana

Attempts: 1920, 2008, 2012

Olympic Connection: The Caribbean islands have yet to host the Olympics. Havana has been a star contender, perhaps in part due to its impressive collection of Olympic medals: Cuba has claimed 37 golds and 73 medals overall in boxing. And it is the only country that has two three-time Olympic Champions: Teofilo Stevenson and Félix Savón.

Get Your Sports Fix: Cuba ranks second only to the United States for total number of Olympic medals in boxing. Havana visitors can watch amateur matches at two area gyms: Sala Polivalente Kid Chocolate, a multi-use indoor sports center named after a 1930s boxing legend built for the Havana 1991 Pan-American Games; or Gimnasio de Boxeo Rafael Trejo, an open-air training center responsible for Olympic greats like Mario Kindelán.

Attempts: 1920, 2008, 2012

Olympic Connection: The Caribbean islands have yet to host the Olympics. Havana has been a star contender, perhaps in part due to its impressive collection of Olympic medals: Cuba has claimed 37 golds and 73 medals overall in boxing. And it is the only country that has two three-time Olympic Champions: Teofilo Stevenson and Félix Savón.

Get Your Sports Fix: Cuba ranks second only to the United States for total number of Olympic medals in boxing. Havana visitors can watch amateur matches at two area gyms: Sala Polivalente Kid Chocolate, a multi-use indoor sports center named after a 1930s boxing legend built for the Havana 1991 Pan-American Games; or Gimnasio de Boxeo Rafael Trejo, an open-air training center responsible for Olympic greats like Mario Kindelán.

Budapest, Hungary
8 of 8
Budapest

Attempts:  1916, 1920, 1936, 1944, 1960

Olympic Connection: Thanks in part to the abundant geothermal waters of Hungary’s capital, citizens of Budapest – nicknamed the “City of Baths” – are known for their aquatic athleticism. The men’s Olympic water polo team dominates the competition with nine world titles, which is a record.

Get Your Sports Fix: The water polo season takes place from May to September. To watch a water polo match while in Budapest, check the schedules with the Hungarian Water Polo Association or the Hungarian Men’s Water Polo Team official site.  

 

Attempts: 1916, 1920, 1936, 1944, 1960

Olympic Connection: Thanks in part to the abundant geothermal waters of Hungary’s capital, citizens of Budapest – nicknamed the “City of Baths” – are known for their aquatic athleticism. The men’s Olympic water polo team dominates the competition with nine world titles, which is a record.

Get Your Sports Fix: The water polo season takes place from May to September. To watch a water polo match while in Budapest, check the schedules with the Hungarian Water Polo Association or the Hungarian Men’s Water Polo Team official site.  

 

Up next...

Best Luxury Resorts in Every U.S. State

Idaho Shore Lodge
Go Back
Find The Best Cruises
Find a cruise

Find the best deals!

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices