Story by Duncan Mackay

The selection process for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics was officially opened today with Rome the only city that has so far definitely committed itself to bidding.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have written to 205 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) inviting them to submit the name of an applicant city by September 1.

The election of the Host City for the 2020 Olympic Games is due to take place on September 7, 2013, during the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires.

For the first time there are number of prerequisite criteria for cities wishing to bid for the Olympic Games that have been put in place.

These include having 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 year 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.

Doha are among several cities considering challenging Rome to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

Dubai, another Middle East country where the conditions could be an issue, are also weighing up whether to bid or not.

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 November 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 the Argentinian capital, which is due to be the last act of IOC President Jacques Rogge before he steps down.

So far only Rome, who hosted the Olympics in 1960, have confirmed that they definitely plan to bid.

But besides Doha and Dubai, among the other cities considering whether to put themselves forward are Tokyo and Madird, both beaten when Rio were awarded the 2016 Olympics, and Delhi, Durban and Istanbul.

Hobart in Tasmania also want to bid but the Australian Olympic Committee are refusing to back it.

But several other cities are Contact the writer of this story at