Weeks after the International Olympic Committee announced that it would delay an announcement on who will host the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games until 2024, the Japanese Olympic Committee and city of Sapporo have announced its efforts to host the event will be paused.
Sapporo’s bid has been seen as the favorite as an unspoken “make-good” by the IOC to Japan for a Games that would be held with fans and sponsorship activations after the delayed 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo resulted in massive budgetary losses for the organizers. But Sapporo’s bid is hurt by association within Japan because of allegations of bribery against members of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and its partners that have drawn negative publicity.
“We recognise we cannot move forward unless we review our operations for the 2030 Games and show that to the world,” Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto said this week. “To start with, we have to take into consideration the case of the bid-rigging allegations. We will discontinue for some time any aggressive effort on such activities. We will review our bid to gain the true understanding of the people of the city.”
Within 48 hours of Sapporo’s announcement, three people were charged in court with bribing a former Tokyo 2020 chief executive. Hironori Aoki, his brother Takahisa and executive director Katsuhisa Ueda are accused of paying $28,000,000 to Haruyuki Takahashi, who had influence over a committee that was charged with sponsorship selection. The Kyodo News also reported Thursday that Japan’s audit board calculated the cost of the Tokyo Games to be $12.9 billion, $2.1 billion more than what the organizing committe’s final report in June listed.
The IOC’s original schedule was to announce targeted dialogue this month and then appoint a host at the 2023 Session in Mumbai, but the session scheduled for May has been pushed back to the fall due to governance issues at the Indian Olympic Association.
Salt Lake City, which previously hosted in 2002, and Sapporo, which previously hosted in 1972, are the two leading candidates for 2030 after the provincial government of British Columbia said it would not financially support the efforts of a bid to bring the Games back to Vancouver.
Observers have emphasized that Vancouver, which previously hosted in 2010, could potentially remain a candidate and the bid leaders have continued discussions with the IOC. The same can be said for Sapporo’s announcement this week, given that with the IOC’s recent announcement the need for intense lobbying is lessened at the current moment.
Salt Lake City has made it clear that it would be available to host in either 2030 or 2034, whichever the IOC decided. Throughout Salt Lake’s candidacy, the big issue was the short turnaround from LA28 from a commercial standpoint. There also is the “follow the money” theory given the IOC’s majority of revenue comes from its TV contract with NBC — a contract that expires after the 2032 Summer Games, making a potential U.S. Winter Games in 2034 a hot property not only for NBC to retain but with the potential of having to out-bid a streamer such as Amazon or Apple. No nation has hosted back-to-back Olympics since World War II.