Sapporo says it can hold the 2030 Olympics and save money too
Tokyo The northern Japanese city of Sapporo has become the favorite to host the 2030 Winter Olympics after the mayor spoke of a plan on Monday that he said would cut costs for one of the sport’s most expensive events.
Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto told a news conference that he would conduct a public opinion poll early next year. He did not indicate the impact of this on the decision to pursue another Olympics.
However, a statement distributed by organizers on Monday indicated that a decision had already been made going forward.
“We will convey our thoughts on the bid to host the Games and outline public expectations and concerns about the Winter Olympics and Paralympics,” the statement said. “These views will be incorporated into all future planning studies.”
Referendums in many European cities led to the rejection of plans to hold the Olympic Games.
Akimoto acknowledged there were concerns about costs, especially after the official cost of the just-completed Tokyo Summer Olympics was listed at $15.4 billion. Some believe the real costs were twice as much, and all but about $6 billion was public money.
“People have expressed their hopes as well, but they are especially concerned about the burden of the high cost going forward,” Akimoto said.
The IOC has not indicated when it will choose the 2030 host city.
Sapporo officials estimated the projected costs between 280 and 300 billion yen ($2.55-$2.65 billion). Officials said 80 billion yen (about $700 million) will be taxpayer money for capital costs, with the rest coming from sponsors, ticket sales and the International Olympic Committee.
Officials said this is a 20% decrease from estimates made in 2019.
Kiyo Momoi, a Sapporo resident, said she found it annoying, as the show was going on without any democratic consultation or discussion.
“If you’re going to spend that kind of money, there are a lot of meaningful things that could use that money,” she said in a recent phone interview. “They do not care about ordinary people’s lives. No one came and asked us for our opinion, but the authorities who made the decision.”
Sapporo hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics, and the mayor said at least 92% of the venues would be existing buildings.
However, the cost of renovating the existing premises would also be significant, and it is impossible to accurately estimate the costs for an event of nearly a decade. An Oxford University study showed that nearly all of the recent Olympics went over budget.
Sapporo is only one of several cities that have expressed interest. They include the regions of Aragon and Spain’s Catalonia, a possible bid from Ukraine, the 2010 host city Vancouver, and some interest for 2030 or 2034 from Salt Lake City, which hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Sapporo takes first place, in large part because it is ahead in its planning, and also because the IOC owes a debt after Tokyo incurred nearly $3 billion in additional costs due to a year-long delay due to the pandemic.
The IOC no longer goes through a lengthy bidding process to select host cities. They are now chosen by the leadership of the Olympic body, and decisions have been taken out of the hands of IOC members.
The change came as the most recent Summer Olympics – Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo – were tainted by allegations that IOC members took bribes for their votes.
Carlos Nuzman, a former IOC member from Brazil, was recently sentenced to 30 years in prison for, among other things, bribing IOC members in the 2009 2016 vote.
He is appealing the conviction.
Tsunekazu Takeda resigned in 2019 as a member of the International Olympic Committee and head of the Japanese Olympic Committee when he became embroiled in allegations of bribery over his bid to host the Tokyo Olympics. He denied any wrongdoing.
The IOC has already chosen the locations for its games until 2032, with the exception of the 2030 Winter Olympics. They are: Beijing 2022; Paris 2024; Milan-Cortina in 2026; Los Angeles in 2028; and Brisbane, Australia in 2032.
“There is no specific time frame for electing a host for 2030, or any other version of the Olympic Games,” the IOC said in a statement to The Associated Press. Guided by the strategic opportunities of the Olympic Movement and the global context.
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