Japan’s Sapporo mulls shifting Winter Olympic bid to 2030

Sapporo may host the Winter Olympics in 2030. (Reuters pic)

TOKYO: Japan’s northern city of Sapporo is considering changing its bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics to 2030 when transport links will have improved, a city official said Thursday.

The majority of Olympic and local officials, as well as business leaders, believe “the 2030 option will be a better environment to host the Games”, city official Akihiro Okumura told AFP.

The comment came after Japanese reports said the city would “soon” tell International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach in Lausanne they wanted to shelve their 2026 bid.

While Sapporo’s vice-mayor Takatoshi Machida and Japanese Olympic Committee boss Tsunekazu Takeda will visit Bach, they will discuss the recent earthquake near Sapporo that killed 41 people, Okumura said.

“I can’t predict whether they would discuss” the possible change of plan to 2030, he added.

But he noted that the city, on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, will have better transport links by 2030 when the country’s shinkansen bullet train will be extended to the city.

There is also a feeling that the 2026 Olympics may go elsewhere after a period dominated by Asia. This year’s Winter Olympics were held in Pyeongchang, the 2022 edition is set for Beijing, and the 2020 Summer Games are in Tokyo.

Competing to host the Games in 2026 are Calgary in Canada, Stockholm in Sweden, and Graz in Austria, with Italy also putting in a multi-city bid.

The winner will be chosen in Milan in September next year.

US cities Denver and Salt Lake City have reportedly voiced interest in hosting the Games in 2030.