Now re-elected, will London Mayor Sadiq Khan deliver promised 2040 Olympic Games bid?

As part of his campaign platform Khan promised to cement London's reputation as "sporting capital of the world" by attracting such events as WrestleMania, the Superbowl and NBA basketball. He also promised a bid to host the 2040 Olympics

London 2012 Olympic Park (IOC Photo)
London 2012 Olympic Park (IOC Photo)

On Saturday, Sadiq Khan was re-elected Mayor of London and set to serve a third term in office – defeating runner up Susan Hall by more than 10 points.

As part of his campaign platform Khan promised to cement London’s reputation as “sporting capital of the world” by attracting such events as WrestleMania, the Superbowl and NBA basketball. He also promised a bid to host the 2040 Olympics.

Khan made the same promise during his 2021 re-election campaign, then dangling a bid to host either the 2036 or 2040 Olympics. Brisbane had already been chosen as the preferred candidate to stage the 2032 edition, putting those Games out of reach.

In 2022 Khan said officials were already engaged with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), presumably through the Future Host Commission in the ongoing dialogue phase of the bid process. He said “we’re working on the preliminary plans, we’re talking to the IOC, so watch this space,” during a trip to New York to promote a tourism rebound in his city following the pandemic.

The IOC keeps such discussions confidential so the conversations could not be confirmed at the time.

Last week IOC president Thomas Bach said that the number of regions currently involved in discussions to host future Games are in the “double digits,” but he didn’t identify any by name. If Khan wants to see London host its record-breaking fourth Olympic Games the bid will have to compete with several other high profile options that have self proclaimed their interest.

Notably India has mounted an aggressive campaign and Germany has begun a public consultation process to measure interest. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have also escalated efforts by building comprehensive sports roadmaps leading up to bids to host the first Games in the Middle East. Earlier this year Turkey stepped up plans for a bid by Istanbul when the city was awarded the 2027 European Games. South Korea, Indonesia and Hungary have also indicated possible bids.

While the IOC has expressed interest in bringing future Games into new regions, London could be an attractive option due to its legacy from the 2012 Games and its moderate summer climate that can accommodate the Games during the preferred July and August dates. If residents support Khan’s plans as much as they supported his Mayoral campaign, that would be an additional benefit as recent Summer Games bids from Europe – including Germany, Hungary and Italy – have been doused by public pushback or referendums.

The IOC may also see London as an opportunity to avoid more controversial hosts such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia that have been called out for human rights abuses, or India where the national Olympic committee was temporarily suspended last year for governance violations.

There is no set timetable for electing future hosts but the IOC has said that the awarding of the 2036 edition won’t happen “before 2026 or 2027”. The selection of the 2040 host would presumably follow, possibly into the next decade.

The IOC’s bid process opens interested parties to multiple options so if the British Olympic Association (BOA) – the organization required to represent any possible London bid – has entered into ongoing dialogue, it can be considered for 2036, 2040 or beyond.

At a groundbreaking IOC Executive Board meeting held last November, regions involved in ongoing dialogue to host the Winter Olympics were considered for three possible editions of the Games and French Alps was named preferred candidate for 2030, Salt Lake City for 2034 and Switzerland was given an exclusive opportunity through “privileged dialogue” to host in 2038.

French Alps and Salt Lake City are expected to be elected at the IOC Session July 24 in Paris.

Following Paris 2024, the next Summer Games will be staged in Los Angeles in 2028.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.

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