The mayor of Sapporo made the strongest in a series of public comments that the Japanese city is prepared to bid for the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, less than six months after Tokyo hosted a delayed Summer Games without fans in attendance.
Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto said at a news conference he would conduct a public opinion survey early next year — many European cities have shut down potential Games bids after negative public reaction — but a statement distributed by bid organizers on Monday suggested the decision had already been made to proceed.
“We will communicate our ideas about the bid for the Games and figure out the expectations and concerns of the public about the Winter Olympics and Paralympics,” the statement said. “Those opinions will be incorporated into all future planning studies.”
Olympic observers eyed Sapporo as a potential 2030 host before this summer, in which Tokyo held the rescheduled Olympic and Paralympics despite little public support and billions in cost overruns. In the wake of the Games, there was belief that the International Olympic Committee would be interested in having the Winter Games in Sapporo but its reputation was sullied, with many feeling the IOC forced the Games on Japan to satisfy TV contracts, to the point that any dialogue would have been counterproductive.
Sapporo officials put the projected costs at $2.55 billion–$2.65 billion with about $700 million coming from taxpayer money, which may be politically dangerous given Tokyo’s cost overruns. Sapporo hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics and Akimoto said at least 92 percent of the venues would be existing structures although the cost of refurbishing those venues could be significant.
Akimoto acknowledged concerns about the costs.
“People have expressed hopes, too, but they are especially worried about the heavy cost burden in the future,” Akimoto said.
The IOC has not indicated when it will pick the 2030 host city. Sapporo is only one of several cities expressing interest. They include the Spanish regions of Aragon and Catalonia, 2010 host city Vancouver and interest for 2030 or 2034 from Salt Lake City, which held the 2002 Winter Olympics.
“There is no fixed timeframe for electing a host for 2030, or any other edition of the Olympic Games,” the IOC told The Associated Press. “The Future Host Commissions, which oversee and monitor interest in future Games, are guided by strategic opportunities for the Olympic Movement and the global context.”
The IOC no longer goes through a long bid process to pick host cities. They are now chosen by the Olympic body’s leadership after the two most recent Summer Olympic hosts — Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo — later were marred by allegations that IOC members were bribed for their votes.
Former IOC member Carlos Nuzman of Brazil was sentenced recently to 30 years in prison for, among other things, bribing IOC members in the 2009 vote for 2016. He is appealing the conviction. Tsunekazu Takeda resigned in 2019 as an IOC member and head of the Japanese Olympic Committee when he became embroiled in bribery allegations over bidding for the Tokyo Olympics. He denied any wrongdoing.