Looking at international media responses on local hosting decisions might give the impression that the Olympics are not en vogue anymore. A major challenge seems to be a declining number of applicant cities willing to host the Olympic Games, which became apparent when Graubünden, Krakow, Munich, Oslo, and Stockholm finally decided not to apply for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. The reason for the withdrawals has often been explained by a lack of support within the population. Some journalists have already concluded that no one but autocrats and oligarchs want to host the Olympic Games anymore (see for example McGrath, 2014).
But is this really the case? Have the Olympic Games indeed lost their appeal to people in democratic countries? And what does this mean for applicant cities such as Hamburg, Rome, Los Angeles, or Paris with respect to their referendums?