Rome had originally been the host city for the IV Olympiad, beating bids from Berlin, Turin and Milan. However, after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on 7 April 1906, the Italian authorities were forced to divert funds from the Games to the reconstruction of the city of Naples. London was chosen as the replacement host city.
Imre Kiralfy, the Hungarian entrepreneur, was responsible for building the White City, a set of spectacular exhibition grounds, for the Franco-British Exhibition of 1907. When London was chosen to host the IV Olympiad, a ‘Great Stadium’ was built within the White City complex to hold the Olympic events. The date of the Franco-British Exhibition was changed from 1907 to 1908 in order that the Olympic Games could be incorporated within it. Kiralfy worked closely with Lord Desborough and Robert Laffan, founders of the fledgling British Olympic Association, to ensure that London was in a strong financial position to put on a successful Games.