Public Survey On Sapporo 2026 Olympic Bid Could Determine Its Fate, Or Delay Project Until 2030

Director General of Sapporo’s Sports Affairs Bureau Toshiya Ishikawa said the city will take a public survey that could determine the fate of Japan’s 2026 Olympic Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games bid.

The Sapporo Dome (Wikipedia Photo)

The Sapporo Dome (Wikipedia Photo)

Sapporo was confirmed earlier this month by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as being among six other cities interested in hosting the Games, but organizers are still unsure whether they will target the 2026 Games or instead prepare for a 2030 bid.

Tokyo is set to host the 2020 Olympic Games.  Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido prefecture, already hosted the Winter Games in 1972 and Nagano followed in 1998.

“Winter sports have become popular in Asia with more people participating, so (hosting the games) will lead to a surge in inbound tourists,” Ishikawa said to Kyodo News .

“The city is aiming to become a hub for sports in Asia.

“We have no hope of hosting the Games…if the residents reject it in the survey.

“We just need to do everything we can to build momentum.”

Ishikawa said that his team must come up with cost estimates to present to residents before measuring their support through a survey.

Sion’s bid in Switzerland is preparing for a binding public referendum across Valais canton on June 10 and is currently running an aggressive public consultation process.  On Monday the City Council in Western Canada’s Calgary confirmed that a non-binding city-wide plebiscite will help direct its bid, and a public consultation is being organized.

A petition is being circulated in Graz, Austria to try to force a public vote in that city.

Stockholm in Sweden and either Cortina d’Ampezzo, Milan or Turin in Italy will bid for the 2026 Games if they can get their respective governments to underwrite the process.

Erzurum is also in the running, trying to win a first Olympic Games for Turkey.

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Discussions with the IOC will continue until October when the organization will choose which qualified bid move forward to the candidate stage.  The winning city will be elected September 2019.

“Countries, some with experience of hosting the Games, have applied, meaning it will probably be an extremely difficult campaign for us,” Ishikawa said.

Sapporo would also represent the third-straight Winter Games in East Asia, after PyeongChang 2018 and Beijing 2022.

Should Sapporo defer until 2030 it will likely face a strong American bid from Salt Lake City, the favored U.S. pick from among Denver and Reno-Tahoe.  The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has already confirmed its intention to bid for the 2030 Games and has reserved a spot in the 2026 dialogue phase should the IOC award both Games at the same time.  Last year the IOC awarded the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games to Paris and Los Angeles when they were the only interested cities left in the 2024 race.

“There are some who say 2030 would be a better time to host, with the Hokkaido Shinkansen (high speed rail expansion) expected to reach Sapporo in 2030.”

But Ishikawa said that residents need to understand that aging facilities from the 1972 Games will need to be replaced.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil