Less than six months after it hosted a delayed Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games without any fans, Japan may somewhat unexpectedly be getting back into the business of hosting one of the world’s biggest sporting events.
A committee in Sapporo is expected to release a revised bid for the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, reports indicated in Japan. The city has been vocal about the potential to host a future Games but withdrew from the “dialogue phase” in 2018 when looking at a 2026 bid after an earthquake hit nearby Hokkaido.
Then came this past summer in Tokyo, when the 2021 Games were held with no fans and little public support with cost overruns expected to reach into the billions. In its aftermath, there was belief within the Olympic movement that the International Olympic Committee would be interested in re-starting the dialogue with Sapporo but its reputation was sullied, with many in Japan feeling the IOC forced the Games on Japan to satisfy TV contracts, to the point that any dialogue would have been counterproductive.
According to the Japan Times, Sapporo is working to cut its previous estimated cost as much as $709 million to a preliminary budget of $2.4–2.6 billion by working to find ways to host events without having to build any new venues that were not either used at the 1972 Olympic Winter Games or 2017 Asian Winter Games.
Sapporo Mayor Akimoto told Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun this month that an updated bid could be published before the end of this month. The reduced budget would be a cut of about 20 percent from the previous total, although nearly every recent Games — Winter or Summer — has seen ballooning budgets by the time the Games are actually held.
Sapporo’s revived bid would expand the field to potentially five cities. The IOC will be welcoming a delegation from a potential Salt Lake City bid that would be in contention to host the Games in either 2030 or 2034, although a final decision on what year that the Utah destination would bid on has not been decided. Vancouver is looking into a bid for 2030 as well as the Catalonia region in Spain, which is seen as a longshot. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently told IOC President Thomas Bach that Ukraine is “determined” to host a Winter Games but the country is seen as a future bidder for 2038 at the earliest. A late entry into the race could be Germany; Thomas Weikert, a candidate for the German Olympic Committee’s presidency, said last week he would be interested in launching a bid for 2030 if elected.