IOC President Plays Up “Excellent” Sapporo 2030 Olympic Winter Games Bid

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach Thursday expressed confidence in the Sapporo 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid, providing an early boost for the Japanese campaign.

Sapporo, Japan - set to host the 2017 Asian Winter Games - hopes to bid for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games (Facebook photo)

Sapporo, Japan hosted the 2017 Asian Winter Games (Facebook photo)

“There can be no doubt Sapporo could organize excellent Winter Olympic Games – they have already done so,” Bach said from Lausanne, Switzerland on the sidelines of the Winter Youth Olympic Games set to open Thursday.

Sapporo last hosted the Winter Games in 1972, and Nagano in Japan staged the event in 1998.  Tokyo will host the Summer Games for the second time this July.

Bach is scheduled to meet with Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto in Lausanne Saturday to discuss both the Tokyo 2020 Games and the Sapporo 2030 Olympic bid.  Sapporo will host Marathon events during the Tokyo Games due to the city’s cooler climate.

Last month the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) confirmed that Sapporo was chosen as the domestic bid that will move forward and present to the IOC.

Sapporo originally entered the 2026 race among six other applicants only to withdraw in September 2018 after a magnitude 6.7 earthquake in the region caused 41 casualties, damage and widespread power outages.  A joint Milan-Cortina bid from Italy was instead awarded the Games last year.

“The candidature for 2026 which in mutual agreement we did not consider further because of the earthquake there, and the priorities the city had to set to rebuild there after the earthquake first,” Bach said.

“Already this candidature was an excellent one and until 2030 it would be even better because we understand the infrastructure would even be improved compared to 2026.

“I am very confident that they could organize an excellent Olympic Winter Games.”

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The IOC has not set a timetable for the 2030 site selection but prospective bids are free to engage with the new IOC Future Host Commission at any time under new rules approved last June.  According to the new process, a region could be elected to host “whenever the timing is right.”

Sapporo could face off against U.S. rival Salt Lake City if the former 2002 host city is put forth by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) for 2030.  The Utah capital won domestic rights to bid for an unnamed future Winter Games when it defeated Denver and Reno-Tahoe during a 2018 campaign.

However, USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland has told that no decision has been made for Salt Lake City to bid for the 2030 edition, and insiders believe that a U.S. Winter Games only 19 months after the scheduled Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games would impact aggregate sponsorship revenues.  A 2034 Winter Games is thought to be a better fit for the U.S.

Possible bids from Lillehammer, and from the region surrounding Barcelona could also be contenders for 2030.

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.