A record 11 cities submitted bids to host the 2004 Olympics by Wednesday's deadline, the International Olympic Committee reported.
The candidates are: Athens; Buenos Aires; Cape Town; Istanbul; Lille, France; Rio de Janeiro; Rome; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Seville, Spain; Stockholm; and St. Petersburg, Russia.
Three of the bidding cities have previously hosted the Olympics: Athens (1896), Stockholm (1912), and Rome (1960).
The highest previous number of bidders for the Summer Olympics was seven for the 2000 Games, which were awarded in 1993 to Sydney, Australia. There were nine candidates for the 2002 Winter Games, secured last June by Salt Lake City.
An evaluation commission will visit the cities between September and January and publish its report by the end of February 1997. A special IOC electoral college will reduce the field to a maximum of five, finalists in late March or early April 1997. The host city will be selected at the IOC session in Lausanne on Sept. 5, 1997.
The preselection process, first used for the 2002 campaign, is designed to reduce the costs of bidding and weed out hopeless candidates before the final vote.
The 2004 race appears wide open, with Cape Town, Rome, and Athens among top contenders.
Cape Town is a strong sentimental choice because the Olympics have never been held in Africa.
Beijing, stung by its defeat to Sydney in the vote for the 2000 Games, did not bid this time.