The academy, a project dear to the Prime Minister's heart, will get more than Pounds 100 million from the National Lottery to give Britain's future sportsmen and sportswomen the training and support they need to win more gold medals. At this year's Olympics in Atlanta, the British team won only one gold medal.
Among the short-listed bids, the three front-runners are thought to be the Central Consortium - a joint effort by Loughborough and Nottingham universities and Lilleshall - the "Athletes' Bid", based in Hertfordshire, and the bid by the British Olympic Association that would involve transforming a former American airbase in Oxfordshire.
The other 10 candidates are Bath, Birmingham, De Montfort University in Leicester, Houghton Grange (Huntingdon), Kent Thameside, Manchester, Merseyside, Sheffield, Sports City Foundation (Kettering) and the only wholly private consortium, UK Academy 2000 (Yorkshire).
All bidders will undergo three months of detailed scrutiny before the winner is announced.
Unsuccessful bidders will be encouraged to bid for one of the regional sport institutes that will underpin the national academy and that are likely to develop links with schools.