Majority across Japan support Sapporo 2030 Winter Olympics according to new survey

A majority of those who responded to an independent poll conducted across Japan last week said they support a Sapporo 2030 Winter Olympics.

Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto meets with Japanese ice hockey Olympians from Beijing 2022 Winter Games April 13, 2022 (Photo: Sapporo)

Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto meets with Japanese ice hockey Olympians from Beijing 2022 Winter Games April 13, 2022 (Photo: Sapporo)

According to a poll conducted by Japan’s national newspaper Asahi Shimbun, 55 percent said they support hosting the Winter Olympics for a second time in Sapporo in 2030 while only 38 percent were opposed to the plan.

The timing of the survey is notable, with the results gathered on September 10 and 11 while headlines across Japan were trumpeting a fresh arrest in the evolving Tokyo 2020 bribery scandal.  Charged former Games organizing committee Executive Board member Haruyuki Takahashi is among those under suspicion of exchanging bribes for preferential treatment of corporations in the Olympics sponsorship program. The charges have been denied.

The scandal was said to have soured the Japanese desire to host another Olympics.

An online poll released by the Sapporo city government in March revealed 57 percent across Hokkaido were in favor of Sapporo 2030 while 26 percent were opposed. At the time, opponents of the bid questioned the validity of the results based on a flawed polling methodology. The city used this majority support to greenlight the Olympic bid without holding a public referendum.

According to Asahi Shimbun, when the results of the new poll are segmented with only residents of the Hokkaido prefecture where Sapporo is the capital and the events would be staged “almost an equal percentage either support or don’t support holding the sporting events in Sapporo.” The newspaper did not provide numeric results to support this claim.

The survey was conducted using the “random digital dialing method” where phone numbers were generated randomly by a computer. There were 1,462 valid responses from 581 landline phones and 881 mobile devices.

Should Sapporo be chosen as a candidate city by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the body’s Future Host Commission will conduct its own polling as part of the due diligence process.

Sapporo is considered the leading contender to host the 2030 Winter Olympics race with both potential rivals, British Columbia in Canada and Salt Lake City in the United States, not yet committed to forwarding formal bids to the IOC.

A media poll released in July found 54 percent across British Columbia support the Vancouver-centered bid, with 35 percent opposed. This result marked an uptick from previous surveys that were taken before the project was positioned as an indigenous-led bid.

Much higher support was found in Utah for capital Salt Lake City’s bid where an August poll demonstrated 79 percent support with only 16 percent opposition. Organizers are still unsure whether the bid will target the 2030 or the 2034 edition of the Games.

Last week the IOC confirmed that it is the intention to elect a 2030 host city during the all-members Session to be held next year. Originally scheduled for May 2023, the IOC opted to delay the meeting until September or October after Session host India was warned that its membership could be suspended due to non-compliance.

The IOC Executive Board had set a December deadline to name candidates for ‘targeted dialogue’, but the new scheduling could allow this date to be pushed until the spring, giving more time for potential hosts to prepare their plans.

“This will be in the hands of the Future Host Commission to see,” IOC president Thomas Bach told journalists Friday.

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.