Sapporo pinning hopes on Beijing Games to boost 2030 Olympic bid

Jiji Press file photo
An Olympic logo and a ski jumping hill are seen in Sapporo on November, 2021.

SAPPORO (Jiji Press) — Sapporo, which is aiming to host the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, is placing expectations on Japanese athletes’ performances at the Beijing Games, believing that their good results can build up momentum to host the Winter Games in Japan.

Although the capital city of Hokkaido prefecture was hoping to draw on Beijing’s experience of hosting the Winter Games, which will open in February, it is now expected to face major restrictions in conducting on-site observations due to the pandemic.

Still, the city sticks to its aim to become the host of the Winter Olympics for the second time, after hosting the games in 1972.

At the time of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea, Sapporo sent some 20 officials to the South Korean city to inspect temporary competition venues and media centers, among other facilities. Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto met with senior International Olympic Committee officials in Pyeongchang to exchange opinions.

This time, the mayor has given up on visiting Beijing as activity will be restricted due to quarantine and other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The number of city officials to be dispatched to the Chinese capital is expected to be less than a half of those sent to Pyeongchang.

Although where the delegation can visit for inspections in Beijing remains uncertain, an official of the Sapporo city government said: “We have been accelerating discussions with IOC officials. We want to learn what we can learn as much as possible.”

When the Tokyo Games were held last summer, people in Japan were cheered by the brilliant performances of Japanese athletes. At the same time, many criticized the ballooning costs to hold the sporting events.

A senior city government official said, “The Olympic Games are now often associated with the image of being costly and people are keeping stern eyes [on the costs needed to stage the games.]”

Despite such circumstances, Sapporo remains eager to host the Winter Games apparently because of the legacies of the 1972 Games that still exist in the city. On the occasion of the Sapporo Olympics, a subway system and an expressway were built and they led to the development of the city.