Should Sapporo bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah said project would have the full backing of his organization, Kyodo News reported Friday.
Sapporo is set to host the Asian Winter Games for a third time in February, and last hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics. Last month the city sent plans to the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) to host the 2026 Games with a budget of between (USD) $3 billion and $4 billion.
Sheikh Ahmad said “Sapporo is like our winter sports hub. If they have an interest we will be very glad to give our advice. Sapporo is capable of hosting the Winter (Olympics).”
He added, “the Asian Games is always the door for other international events. Sapporo will now host the Asian Winter Games for a third time and they are capable of bidding for the Winter (Olympics).”
“For us, Sapporo is a special city. I believe Sapporo is not only a host city. I think Sapporo is a partner to continue the winter sport movement in Asia.”
Sapporo is set to deliver the Asian Winter Games featuring 11 sports between February 19-26. It’s the fourth time the competition will be organized in Japan.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is set to launch the 2026 Olympic bid process starting with an invitation stage in 2017. Applications are expected to be due early in 2018 with the IOC electing a winner in 2019.
The JOC would have to determine whether it is wise to move forward with Sapporo before it submits its application, but the city will likely discuss this with the IOC before an application is submitted.
It is expected to be an uphill battle if Sapporo hopes to be successful. Japan is already struggling to control the budget for the 2020 Games in Tokyo and it is unlikely the IOC will award a second Games to the nation while the first has yet to take place. Additionally, if Sapporo were to win, it would be the third straight Winter Games in East Asia following PyeongChang and Beijing. The IOC typically prefers to move the Games around the globe.
Other cities currently considering bids for the 2026 Games are Calgary, a Swiss candidate, Innsbruck, Stockholm, 2022 runner-up Almaty in Kazakhstan and potentially Lake Placid, U.S.A.