Sapporo to review plans for 2030 Winter Games bid

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto, right, and Japan Olympic Committee Senior Executive Board member Keiko Momii attend a press conference in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday.

Sapporo is reconsidering efforts to host the 2030 Winter Olympics, with the city’s mayor citing scandals linked to the Tokyo Olympics as a reason for the rethink.

At a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto said another survey would be conducted to ask people whether they are in favor of hosting the Winter Games in the city.

The survey, which will be conducted sometime after the mayoral election in April, might involve a nationwide opinion poll or a local survey targeting Sapporo or Hokkaido residents, according to Akimoto.

In response to a question about whether he will consider abandoning plans to bid for the Games, Akimoto said, “I will respect the will of the people.”

Akimoto cited the clouded image of the Games in the wake of corruption and bid-rigging scandals linked to Tokyo 2020 as the reason for conducting a new survey.

“The situation has changed drastically. We need to reaffirm the will of the people,” he said.

Sapporo plans to conduct the survey after presenting a revised strategy to host the Winter Games. The survey method will be decided at a later date.

In 2014, about 67% of Sapporo residents voted in favor of a subsequently withdrawn plan to bid for the 2026 Winter Games.

However, only about 52% were in favor of bidding for the Winter Olympics in a survey conducted via postal mail in March this year, when residents would have been aware of the ballooned cost of last year’s Summer Games in Tokyo. Then came news of alleged corruption and bid-rigging linked to Tokyo 2020.

Sapporo has decided to conduct another survey following the International Olympic Committee’s decision on Dec. 6 to postpone its final selection of the 2030 host city from the previously planned deadline of autumn 2023.

Akimoto said activities linked to the planned bid “will pause briefly while the situation is reviewed.”