Sapporo appears to be the next stop on a tour of potential 2030 Winter Olympics hosts by an International Olympic Committee (IOC) team of inspectors that will visit to assess the feasibility of proposed venues for the Games.
According to Kyodo News, the three-person team that examined venues around Salt Lake City in late April and are set to conclude an inspection of Vancouver and Whistler by this Thursday will be joined by Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) members to explore up to 13 venues across Hokkaido province.
A trip by the same team to visit a Spanish bid from Barcelona and the Pyrenees in May had to be postponed, according to the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) because stakeholders in that project haven’t been able to agree on the distribution of venues across the region. That proposal will go to a public referendum on July 24.
The IOC has been careful to position these visits as a service provided to interested bidders as they assess their own feasibility to host the Games and the organization has explained that the team is not connected to the Future Host Commission led by Octavian Morariu. The technical inspectors have not been identified by name.
The stealth measures currently in place by the IOC are part of the new bid process launched in 2019 that allows interested parties to enter into a continuous dialogue to explore the viability of bid plans without any commitment. This will allow any city to bow out of the race without any embarrassment.
“The IOC respects the confidentiality of each possible host as they work toward the development of the public and private dimensions of their project,” the IOC recently explained in a statement.
“Each interested party is free to communicate to national and regional media when it feels the time is right.”
No itinerary of these technical visits has been published by the IOC leading to the possibility that there may be additional jurisdictions involved, exploring a possible Winter Games bid, beyond the four regions that have been open about their plans.
Last week GamesBids.com was first to report the Vancouver 2030 visit currently underway after learning about it from a bid spokesperson. Other planned trips, including the Sapporo inspection later this month, were uncovered by local media.
The four regions currently known to be bidding are all seeking a second Games, with Barcelona looking to add to their 1992 Summer Games experience and the others looking to complement their initial Winter Games.
Sapporo has the most advanced bid in the 2030 race after the city was forced to withdraw from the 2026 race due to an earthquake in Hokkaido in 2018. Salt Lake City is well prepared for a 2030 Games but may need to wait until 2034 instead to add distance to the already planned Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games also in the United States.
Vancouver looks to be the first indigenous-led Games in history while Barcelona is preparing for a Summer referendum that threatens to end the project.
There is no set timetable for the election of the host city. The IOC will single out one or more preferred hosts to be put to a members vote once the right partnerships are found.