By Duncan Mackay in Lausanne
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

Olympic rings_23January 12 - Cities planning to put themselves forward to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics today found out the timetable for the bid process, with the final decision due to be announced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at its 125th session in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires on September 7, 2013.

The IOC's ruling Executive Board today approved the timings for the bid process which has already attracted strong interest from several cities, including Doha, Dubai, Istanbul, Madrid, Rome and Tokyo.

The IOC plans to circulate the 205 National Olympic Committees before the end of this month to see if they are interested in putting forward a candidate.

They will then have until May 16 to submit the name of an applicant city, which will coincide with the publication of the 2020 Candidature Acceptance Procedure.

Applicant cities will have until July 29, 2011, to inform the IOC if they propose to hold the Games outside the normal Olympic Games window, which is between July 15 and August 31.

This is crucial because three years ago Doha were knocked out in the preliminary stages because their proposed dates did not meet the published criteria, although they claimed that IOC President Jacques Rogge had led them to believe that they could host the Games outside the window, just as Sydney had done in 2000.

This is likely to be even more scrutinised on this occasion following FIFA's controversial decision last month to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar and the subsequent proposal to move the tournament from its traditional June/July slot to January to avoid the scorching summer heat in the Middle East.

The final deadline to confirm the submission of applicant cities is on September 1, which follows the election of the host city of the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, which is due to be announced at the IOC Session in Durban on July 6.

The IOC plan to hold an information seminar for the cities in Lausanne in October before they have to submit the application file and guarantee letters by February 15, 2012.

The IOC's Executive Board will choose the candidate cities at a meeting in May 2012 and they will attend the London 2012 Olympics as part of the IOC's observer programme.

The IOC have recommended that the London 2012 debrief is held in Rio de Janeiro, the host for 2016, in November and the bid cities then have until the beginning of January 2013 to prepare and deliver their Candidate Files.

The visits of the IOC Evaluation Commission are scheduled for March and April 2013 with the report due to be published in June, the same month that there will be a Candidate City briefing for IOC members.

The election of the host city will then take part in Buenos Aires, which is due to be the last act of IOC President Jacques Rogge before he steps down.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]