Tokyo 2020 chief ready to accept lead role if Sapporo 2030 wins Winter Olympic bid

Just hours after the flame was extinguished on the spectatorless and pandemic-postponed Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, ending the eight year effort to organize two major quadrennial events including the Olympic Games, organizing committee Chief Seiko Hashimoto has put her hand up for more.

The Sapporo Dome (Wikipedia Photo)

The Sapporo Dome (Wikipedia Photo)

Hashimoto said she is willing to embrace the proposed Sapporo 2030 Winter Olympics and lead it to success as chief if given the opportunity.

“I would love to accept it, if (people) ask me to assume the chair of the organizing committee of (the Sapporo Games),” Hashimoto said during a press conference according to Asahi Shimbun.

A possible Sapporo 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Games “will be a more complete and total event, where you see stadiums filled and people’s smiling faces everywhere,” she added.

Hashimoto held the position for only six months following the resignation in February of former Chief Yoshiro Mori who was forced to step down following his continued sexist remarks.  But with the postponement, extreme Covid-19 protocols and tough decisions including to ban spectators from the events, it can be argued that Hashimoto navigated the Games through the most difficult waters.

“I cannot say that the Games were 100 percent successful because we could not carry them out in a complete fashion,” Hashimoto said.

“But the efforts we made toward a successful hosting of the Games were amazing and mean more than a success.

“I think the next challenge for us is to take the Games’ legacy to another level, where people would look back and say that it was good to host the Tokyo Olympics back then.”

Hashimoto indicated that the experience and perseverance learned from delivering Tokyo 2020 amid adversity will by a foundational legacy for a future Games, possibly in Sapporo.

Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto said last month that further review will be required to validate his city’s bid to host the Winter Games, including increased public consultations.  His remarks followed Tokyo 2020 marathon events successfully held in Sapporo and a meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach who then praised the city as a suitable Winter Games host.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) introduced the 2030 bid process prior to the pandemic in January 2020 unveiling Sapporo, Pyrenees-Barcelona and Salt Lake City as interested parties to host those Games.  Bach at that time said that Sapporo would be an “excellent” choice and hinted that a successful host could be chosen at any time under new bidding rules.

The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) approved the Sapporo 2030 bid later that January, positioning the city to host a sequel to its first Winter Games in 1972.

In February a bid from Vancouver sprouted, heating up the race just before Covid-19 cooled it all back down.

In June Bach told that “we’re not in a hurry” to select a 2030 host even after Brisbane was named the Executive Board’s choice to host the subsequent Summer Games in 2032.  He said the organizing the Winter Games is more “complex” and the Future Host Commission requires more time to make a decision.

Salt Lake City organizers are currently in discussions with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games organizing committee to determine whether a Winter Games in the Utah capital can successfully navigate the 18 month gap between the two Games in the United States, or if 2034 is the better target.

The Pyrenees-Barcelona in Spain bid is moving forward amid political bickering over jurisdiction and calls for increased public consultation.  Growing local opposition is calling for a binding referendum.

Plans for a Vancouver bid have been on hold by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) until next year while team preparations for the Tokyo 2020 were underway and the Beijing 2022 Winter Games are on the horizon for February.  Interest from Quebec City emerged earlier this year but the COC had said Vancouver was the focus for a potential Canadian bid.

Milan-Cortina in Italy has been elected to host the 2026 Winter Olympics.  There is no set timetable for siting the 2030 Games.

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.