Sapporo shows strong support for 2030 Winter Olympics

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FILE – The Olympic rings during the closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, February 20, 2022, in Beijing. City officials in Sapporo, northern Japan, say the public supports holding the 2030 Winter Olympics. However, Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto said the city is not planning to hold a referendum public binding for the last word. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)

PA

The Japanese city of Sapporo is not planning to hold a public referendum on whether to hold the 2030 Winter Olympics, Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto said on Wednesday.

The northern Japanese city, which hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics, has expressed interest in hosting again and is said to be the favourite.

The International Olympic Committee did not say when it would announce its choice. Other possibilities are Vancouver, Salt Lake City and a Spanish bid, possibly from Barcelona.

“We don’t have such plans,” Akimoto told a news conference, explaining the technicalities in Japan of a binding public vote. “There are therefore no plans to hold a referendum on the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Akimoto knows the referendum record is not good, with voters often saying “no”.

Cities no longer go through a one-on-one public bidding process. The IOC management now chooses the sites it considers favorable. Rank-and-file CIO members no longer vote on sites, as corruption scandals have sullied recent bids.

In Europe, a series of contenders have rejected holding the 2022 Winter Olympics in public votes. Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, remained the only options when the IOC made its choice in 2015.

Beijing has been chosen and has just closed the Paralympic Winter Games on Sunday.

Akimoto released the results of various surveys conducted earlier this month. He said the range of responses was positive, between 52% and 65%. The surveys reached more than 10,000 people. Surveys were online, by mail, some in street interviews.

Akimoto gave no details on the methodology or the reliability of the investigations.

“We believe we were able to receive some support for the bid,” he said.

Tokyo hosted the 2020 Summer Olympics, which were delayed for a year by the pandemic. Organizers said late last year that the official cost to Tokyo was $13.6 billion, double the original estimate.

The pandemic has helped drive up costs, with taxpayers – not the IOC – footing most of the bills.

Sapporo organizers estimated the cost at $2.4 billion to $2.6 billion.

The Winter Olympics have become a tough sell for the IOC with rising costs, environmental concerns and voter scrutiny.

The IOC has already chosen Paris as the host for the 2024 Summer Olympics, followed by the 2026 Winter Games in Milan-Cortina, and Los Angeles for the 2028 Summer Olympics. The IOC has also chosen Brisbane , Australia, for the 2032 Summer Olympics.

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Edward K. Thompson