The Japanese city of Sapporo Wednesday received the official approval of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) to enter a bid to host the 2030 Olympic Winter Games.
The JOC nominated the city that hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics during an Executive Board Meeting as a formality after Sapporo was the only city that emerged with interest in bidding ahead of a December 20 deadline. In 2018 Sapporo dropped a bid for the 2026 Winter Games mid-campaign after a severe earthquake near the Hokkaido Capital drew focus away from the event.
Under new rules implemented by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last year, Sapporo will first enter a dialogue phase with the IOC until the organization takes serious interest in the opportunity and then opens a targeted dialogue phase with the intention of preparing the bid for approval by IOC members.
Sapporo’s Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto met with IOC President Thomas Bach earlier this month in Lausanne to discuss the bid and the city was given a ringing endorsement.
“I am very confident that they could organize an excellent Olympic Winter Games,” Bach claimed.
Sapporo was then named among Salt Lake City in the United States and Pyrenees-Barcelona as possible interested 2030 bidders by Octavian Morariu, Chair of the Future Host Commission for the Winter Games for the IOC. Japan’s bid is considered an early favorite in the race as the other two cities continue to weigh options amid mixed priorities.
Spain’s regional proposal involving Barcelona and the Pyrenees could include a venue in 1984 host city Sarajevo, but a new Spanish government is also considering a 2032 Summer Games bid and will only move forward with one project.
Salt Lake City is organizing in the shadow of the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games already scheduled which could push the United States’ interest in a Winter Games to 2034. Earlier this month a United States Olympic Committee (USOC) spokesperson remained vague about intentions when he told GamesBids.com “…we would like to bring the Olympic Winter Games back to the United States and if we have the opportunity to bid for that honor at some point in the future, Salt Lake City will be our partner.”
For Japan, the timing is better with the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games set to open in July and a Winter Games host for 2030 likely to be elected following, allowing the nation to showcase its offering then focus on next steps.
Sapporo is set to host the Tokyo 2020 marathon that was recently relocated to the northern city due to the risk of high temperatures in the Japanese Capital during the event.
But Sapporo’s offer includes environmental risks of its own with ongoing earthquake fears that could seriously disrupt a years-long preparation for the Games. Just Tuesday the region was hit by magnitude-5.4 tremblor and scientists have warned that there is a significant risk of much larger quakes to come.
There is no set timetable for awarding the Olympic Games under the new rules but Bach hinted that it is unlikely that his Executive Board will wait until the traditional seven-years in advance of the Games.
Bach said the decision will be made “whenever the timing is right,” and would not “take forever.”