IOC technical visit to Sapporo launches busy June for 2030 Winter Olympic bids

The City of Sapporo has received a three-member technical team from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who are touring proposed venues in the city and across Hokkaido this week.

Niseko Ski Resort, About 100 km from Sapporo, could host Alpine events at 2030 Olympic Winter Games (Niseko Resort Photo)
Niseko Ski Resort, About 100 km from Sapporo, could host Alpine events at 2030 Olympic Winter Games (Niseko Resort Photo)

The unnamed team is traveling with Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) representatives in private as they explore as many as 16 possible venues that could be considered as host facilities for the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  Though being downplayed by the IOC as merely a ‘service’ to regions that are interested in hosting a future Olympic Games, the visit will provide the IOC with important findings that can be used to determine which projects will be pursued as candidates later this year.

IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi told reporters last month that his organization’s Future Host Commission will closely consider the interested bidders during the summer months and into the fall to determine which will be elevated to a “targeted dialogue” status – or candidates – as early as December.  A winning bid could be elected at the IOC’s Session next May 30 in Mumbai, India.

Sapporo hosted the first ever Winter Games in Asia in 1972 and last year staged athletics road racing events as part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.  The trio of experts are expected to visit snow venues in the region and key facilities in Sapporo, but according to local reports they won’t be going to the sliding and ski jump venues located in Nagano where the 1998 Winter Games were staged.

The Japanese city is considered the most advanced bid of four projects currently known to be in discussions with the IOC.  The Hokkaido capital forwarded a bid to host the 2026 Games but pushed plans to 2030 instead after an earthquake hit the region in 2018.  City officials have launched a public engagement campaign and dismissed the need for a referendum after polls taken earlier this year showed support levels in the 50 percent and 60 percent ranges.

The IOC technical experts visited 2002 Games host Salt Lake City in April and toured facilities in 2010 host city Vancouver in May.  Plans to visit the Catalan region in Spain have been postponed twice due to disorganization within the joint project proposed from Barcelona and the Pyrenees.  Last week that bid collapsed after regional partners failed to come to an agreement over venue distribution by a set deadline.

A July 24 binding referendum planned in the impacted regions was accordingly postponed until this autumn at the earliest, if the bid survives until then.

Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) officials remain dedicated to bringing a strong proposal for 2030 to the IOC before its too late, but COE President Alejandro Blanco had no good news for IOC President Thomas Bach who was in Madrid Wednesday to discuss the Olympic Refugee Foundation.  According to local media, Bach told reporters that he had confidence the bid could recover in Blanco’s hands.

A senior-level Salt Lake City delegation plans to visit IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland June 15 and 16 for in-person discussions about the United States’ bid.

The four bids, and any others that may be secretly involved in the IOC’s confidential ‘continuous dialogue’ stage of the Olympic bid process, have been invited as observers at the Beijing 2022 Winter Games debrief meeting with Milan-Cortina 2026 scheduled June 20 in Italy.  Plans for delegations to attend the event have not yet been confirmed by

Vancouver’s possible bid to stage an indigenous-led Games should hit a milestone this month with the completion of its feasibility study.  With results in hand, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) will liaise with First Nations partners and participating municipalities to determine whether the bid will officially move forward.

Canada’s bid will launch a public information campaign if partners agree to pursue plans, and that could revive calls for a referendum after a Vancouver City Council motion to put the bid to a vote failed to receive a seconder earlier this year.

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.

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