One of the prime contenders to host the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games has taken another step forward in its candidacy as the city of Sapporo, Japan, and the Japanese Olympic Committee announced it will establish the Hokkaido-Sapporo 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Promotion Committee.
Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto revealed the plans last week. Akimoto has said he will not hold a public referendum on the issue and that a survey showed between 52% and 65% support. The lack of a public referendum, as well as cost concerns from the Japanese public in the wake of Tokyo’s budget expansion to host the postponed 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games, would serve as potential deterrants.
Sapporo and Salt Lake City, Utah, have the most advanced bids in the race for 2030. Sapporo has been seen as a potential front-runner in the race with the IOC awarding the Games to the 1972 hosts as a way to make up for the lack of fans at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games due to the pandemic.
A group from the International Olympic Committee will to visit Salt Lake City, Utah, from April 27–30 as the race to host the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is evolving on a near-monthly basis.
United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee Chair Susanne Lyons revealed the planned visit in March during a media briefing. Lyons added that herself, USOPC Chief Executive Officer Sarah Hirshland and members from the Utah-Salt Lake City Committee for the Games will go to Lausanne and the IOC’s headquarters for face-to-face meetings in June. That is a meeting that was planned for last year but has twice been postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“We don’t expect any decision to be made by the IOC until their general Session which will be next summer,” said Lyons, referring to the IOC’s plans to hold its all-members meeting either May or June in Mumbai, India. “We would expect by the end of this year it should evolve to at least who the leading contenders are, and we certainly hope and expect that Salt Lake City will be among them.”
Salt Lake City, which hosted the Winter Games in 2002, is bidding to become the second U.S. destination to host the Winter Games twice; Lake Placid, New York, hosted in 1932 and 1980. The Utah destination took advantage of Beijing’s ban on foreign fans for the 2022 Games by hosting two weeks of activations and family events throughout both Salt Lake City and Park City, while also re-lighting the torch that was used in 2002 in front of Rice-Eccles Stadium.
If Salt Lake City is successful, the U.S. could host consecutive Olympics with the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles. No nation has hosted back-to-back Olympics since World War II; the two-year turnaround is perhaps the biggest obstacle for Salt Lake’s candidacy in the 2030 race given the potential commercial and sponsorship impact.
However, “one could say that there are actually some very interesting things you can do with the notion of a bundled package of two Games in the U.S. that we are offering to our commercial partners,” Lyons said.
An announcement in 2023 would be closer to the IOC’s traditional pattern toward an announcement — the next Winter Games in 2026 was awarded to Milan-Cortina, Italy, in 2019 — but the change in how candidates are evaluated and announced in recent years has upended that tradition. The 2024 and 2028 Games in Paris and Los Angeles, respectively, were announced simultaneously in 2017 and the 2032 Games awarded to Brisbane was announced in 2021.
Vancouver has engaged with the Four Nations in Canada for a joint bid but the group is not as far along in its candidacy as either Salt Lake or Sapporo. Vancouver city councilor Colleen Hardwick forwarded a motion at a recent city council meeting to hold a public vote on the 2030 bid but pulled it from the agenda to address concerns raised by Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who claimed holding a referendum would violate a memorandum of understanding signed with First Nations leaders who have been positioned to lead the possible bid.
There was earlier talk about a bid from the Ukraine, although that talk has understandably been put aside as the country fights an invasion from Russia. A fifth potential bidder in Spain has been trying to get traction has been marred by roadblocks. The Spanish Olympic Committee released a plan for a joint bid from the Catalunya and Aragon regions but Javier Lambán, president of the Government of Aragon, rejected the plans within 24 hours. The Catalan government said it would hold a referendum about the plans; such public polling in the past has resulted in vast disapproval in potential bid cities throughout Europe before.