You want the Olympics. I want to give you the Olympics. Let's see if we can't come to some accommodation my friend.
It never used to be this way. Back in Ancient Greece, the Olympics were always held in Olympia and everyone else's bid committee just had to suck that bit of news up every 4 years when the envelope got opened. The Olympians presumably looked forward to a regular two weeks of getting wasted on wine and figs and loudly shouting through to their wives that they always knew the guy from Corinth was going to win that one. Meanwhile the other cities had to settle for waiting days for a runner to show up with the results drawn on a pot.
Photo finish in the 100m prance-athon
Sponsorship opportunities were a bit more limited in those days too especially given that everyone ran around in the nip, but the tourism revenue stream was there thanks to a special truce that meant the Greeks would stop getting into complicated wars during the games and would let people travel over to watch without getting speared or recruited into holding a pass against impossible Persian odds.
When the modern games began in 1896, it was proposed that Athens have them every year, because Michael Dukakis' actress relative had sullied the name of Olympia in her youth by exposing her forearms in full sight of a passing Spaniard. Pierre de Coubertin, father of the modern Olympics wanted to move the games around though because it seemed more friendly that way. Because he had a more impressive moustache than the other delegates, his idea of picking a new venue every four years was adopted.
You have to admit, the man put a lot of effort into the things that mattered to a Victorian playa.
Thus began the modern competition to select an Olympic city and everything that makes the games great: overblown opening ceremonies, mascots that look like accidents of evolution and huge amounts of bribery.
Winning the Olympics doesn't mean getting more medals than other, more free heathcare-y countries, it means bringing the games and all its media, advertising and tourism dollars to your city. If your city is the kind of city that the other cities laugh at and push around like they run the place, then the impetus to win Olympic glory is all the greater. All of a sudden, frustrated municipal politicians and officials get their one chance on the world stage and they don't want to miss it. One way to get free publicity is to propose a wacky non-sport to be included in your games (See 6 Insane Sports that Could Be in the Next Olympics) like Wii Boxing or baboon racing or synchronised hat repair. The ensing worldwide headlines will get you noticed at which point you can drive your advantage home.
DON'T BE SO CONVENTIONAL
Because it doesn't take long to realise that building a new swimming pool or getting Bob Beamon's endorsement only goes so far and you need ways to tempt the Olympic flame to your corner of the globe that don't get mentioned in the official bid prospectus. Obviously, only an idiot would simply send a load of cash over to the International Olympic Committee with a card attached; the preferred technique is known as 'gift giving'. Gift giving can range from a promotional ballpoint pen and hat (eliminated in the first round of voting) to skiing holidays, nepotism and free plastic surgery (Semi-final place guaranteed).
Which brings us to the story of Salt Lake City and the Winter Olympics. Not to say that SLC is unique in the gift giving phenomenon, just that they got caught and they got caught overdoing it a touch. The Jewel of Utah had previously contended for the 1998 Winter Games but despite masterminding the bid with the talents of a lawyer AND a car salesman the city failed to be quite sleazy enough for the IOC representatives who found the Oriental delights of the Nagano committee's "welcome pack" more to their liking.
You can see why a ring binder and a cartoon mascot weren't going to swing it on their own
The Great Salty Lake Place wasn't beaten though and put a greater effort into the bid for the 2002 games. Mormopolis spent millions on generous college scholarships, Superbowl tickets and free facelifts for IOC representatives and their relatives. The spending paid off when Osmondville finally secured the 2002 Winter Games. Up yours Sion, Switzerland! Co-incidentally, it was the Swiss IOC representative who broke the subsequent scandal. If you can work out why, please email Cracked immediately.
The news of all these "promotional gifts" didn't actually affect the IOC's choice of NoBoozeOrBlowjobs on the Lake for the venue, and the city went on to successfully host the games. In fact, various stories of past cities' trickery have been since revealed with nobody being all that surprised or bothered. Yes that's right link hoverers, Adolf Hitler was in deep on 1930s Olympic corruption. At least nobody in MultiWifeFuckTown tried to wipe out whole races in pursuit of a Nike sponsorship and exclusive Far East delayed telecast coverage rights. China came close of course (see Should Cracked Boycott the Beijing Olympics?) but they very sportingly promised to delay any brutal supression until the games were over.
So be prepared to schmooze, have an anthropomorphic pet called...Oly or something dance about a bit with a celebrity, have accounts at some discrete banks for 'entertaining' and remember to try not to commit genocide until AFTER the closing ceremony. The great worldwide festival of sport and human togetherness will be yours!