FORGET the 100 metres, relays and opening ceremonies, the Olympic event of the decade will take place later this month when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selects a host city for the year 2000 Games. Not since Moscow's bid in 1973 has there been so much controversy over the site selection. A prime reason for that controversy is the bid of Beijing, which hopes to beat off the challenges of Berlin, Manchester, Istanbul and early favourite Sydney. Beijing has taken the spotlight because human rights activists have helped start a US congressional campaign to pressure IOC members to vote against China's bid. The Chinese capital has gone to town on its image in an attempt to put a strong public relations spin on proceedings. Who will get it? If Beijing does, is there any likelihood of that most dreaded sporting/political phenomenon: the boycott? With this much at stake, the September 23 IOC decision will almost certainly provoke more pyrotechnics than the decision to award the 1996 Games to Atlanta. It is sure to make great television, and channels around the world are poised to capture the world's reaction. Leading the Olympic charge is CNN International (CNNI) which will air a special series entitled An Olympic Decision: the 2000 Olympic Games, covering the run up to and final decision on the competition site. The programmes will run from September 22 to 24 and each half-hour special will profile the contending cities, analyse the politics and economics which go into the site selection, and assess the implications for the winning city. The first profile will air on September 22 at 10.30 pm (Hong Kong time). The following day, the specials will air at 1.30, 4.30 and 10.30 am, with further transmission at 12.30, 5.30 and 11.30 pm. Covering the official announcement of the winning city at2.20 am, programming for Friday, September 24 is scheduled at 2, 3.30 am, 12.30 and 5.30 pm. The BBC World Service is concentrating on lead-in programming with a special edition of On the Line (11.25 am and 12.25 pm Wednesday) which will look at Beijing and its bid, at the officials attempting to bolster confidence and the means they are employing. Meanwhile, TVB is sticking to the tried and trusted by throwing its song-and-dance resources at the subject. While Pearl will carry a live broadcast of the international feed featuring the vote from Monte carlo (September 24, 1.25-2.35 am), Jade will be going to town. The Chinese channel will send teams to Monte Carlo and Beijing. It will broadcast a variety show leading up to the vote. It will also broadcast a 30-minute segment on China Central Television - to be screened around the nation. The variety show will feature performances from the likes of Andy Lau Tak-wah and Aaron Kwok Fu-shing, and updates from reporters in both cities. Meanwhile, ATV Home will be wheeling out its bigger guns on the night in a special to be aired between 11.55 pm and 2.45 am. . It will contain clips supplied by the IOC on the cities concerned, and also footage from Monte Carlo.