Boosting local enthusiasm will be vital to getting 2nd Sapporo Games

To bring about a second Sapporo Winter Olympics, it is essential to increase enthusiasm among the local community. The city of Sapporo must clearly convey the significance and benefits of hosting the Games.

Sapporo is aiming to host the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and has announced an outline plan for the Games. Salt Lake City and Vancouver are also reportedly interested in bidding for the Winter Games, and the host city may be decided as early as next year.

Sapporo described a “sustainable Olympics and Paralympics unique to Sapporo” as its basic philosophy and hopes to use the Games as an opportunity to think about an inclusive society and environmental issues.

According to the plan, the opening and closing ceremonies would be held at Sapporo Dome, and of the 13 competition venues, 11 would be refurbished from venues used for the 1972 Sapporo Games and other facilities. The sledding events would be held at the same venue used for the Nagano Winter Games in 1998, and no new facilities would be built.

It is difficult for a regional city to maintain huge sports facilities. The International Olympic Committee is also encouraging the use of existing facilities to reduce the burden on host cities. To avoid creating a “negative legacy,” the effective use of existing facilities is an appropriate decision.

The cost of hosting the Games would be between ¥280 billion and ¥300 billion, a substantial reduction from the 2019 estimate.

Of this amount, about ¥200 billion in operating costs would be covered by ticket sales and sponsorship income, and the city said it would shoulder only ¥45 billion, part of the cost of renovating the facilities.

However, the cost of hosting the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics ballooned due to the postponement of the Games and measures against the spread of the novel coronavirus. There is the possibility that unforeseen circumstances could occur at the Sapporo Games. The city has to be prepared for the possibility that it will not be able to reduce costs as planned.

If the Sapporo Games are realized, more than 3,000 athletes are expected to participate in both the Olympics and Paralympics. This would attract tourists from Japan and abroad, and the economic ripple effect could be huge. Memories of the Tokyo Games are still fresh in the minds of the people, thanks to the excitement they felt at the successes of elite athletes.

However, the fact that the number of cities wishing to host the Olympics has been decreasing in recent years due to the huge costs involved should not be overlooked. Some Sapporo residents have voiced concern that the city’s fiscal condition could deteriorate as a result of hosting the Games.

Sapporo plans to hold a dialogue with city residents on the outline of the plan and to conduct a survey of Hokkaido residents to determine their sentiments as to whether the city should host the Games.

Local support is the key to realizing the Games. Sapporo must do its utmost to explain why it needs to host the Games.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Dec. 7, 2021.