Sapporo Mayor Fumio Ueda announced Nov. 27 that his city will bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics.
The decision came about a year after Tokyo landed the 2020 Summer Games. If Sapporo succeeds, it will be its second Winter Olympics. In 1972, it became the first city in Asia to host the Winter Games. Japan last staged the extravaganza in Nagano in 1998.
Here are the details behind Sapporo’s bid:
How did the bid originate?
The decision was based on public support and made at the request of the Sapporo Municipal Assembly and business circles.
The city distributed a questionnaire in October to 10,000 residents to gauge interest. Of the 4,775 respondents, 66.7 percent said they were “in favor” or “rather in favor” of hosting the games again.
The Sapporo Chamber of Commerce and Industry sent the mayor a letter last month asking that the city submit a bid.
The assembly then passed a resolution to move the effort forward.
What are some of the factors behind the quest?
Ueda stressed that the games would benefit the capital of Hokkaido and jump start efforts to renew its infrastructure, much of which was built to host the ’72 Olympics.
“Holding the Winter Games would prompt the city to renew its urban infrastructure and winter sports facilities and promote barrier-free environments,” Ueda said after the announcement.
The 1972 event paved the way for major improvements, including a subway and an underground shopping complex.
It also raised Sapporo’s international profile, transforming it into a global hub for winter sports.
The area has since hosted many international competitions, including two Asian Winter Games, in 1986 and 1990, the 1991 Winter Universiade and the Nordic World Ski Championships in 2007.
Coming up, Sapporo will host the World Women’s Curling Championship next year and the Asian Winter Games again in 2017.
What are the estimated costs and economic effects of holding the Olympic Games?
The city believes it would cost ¥404.5 billion to play host, including ¥99.5 billion for building new venues. Sapporo’s share of the expenses would be ¥71.5 billion, officials say. The figures are based on past Olympics.
Some residents are worried about the cost.
In the city’s survey, 49.3 percent of the respondents said they were concerned about the expense of hosting the event and maintaining the venues.
Ueda said the city would be fiscally healthy enough to afford its share and pledged to keep costs as low as possible.
The city meanwhile projects an economic windfall of about ¥540.4 billion and 44,000 jobs.
When is the decision?
The International Olympic Committee is expected to select the host city for 2026 at its general assembly in 2019.
Before that, the Japanese Olympic Committee will notify the IOC of its candidate city, if any, in 2017.
“We need to consider the plan carefully, including whether to formally submit the bid to the IOC,” JOC President Tsunekazu Takeda reportedly said after Sapporo’s plan was announced.
The city will consult with sports associations to formalize its plans by the end of 2016.
Ueda says he doesn’t intend to seek re-election next April, so it would fall to his successor to create and conduct an Olympic campaign.
What are Sapporo’s chances?
Not so rosy, experts say.
Tokyo Metropolitan University professor Naofumi Masumoto, who studies the games, said the fact that two Winter Games are to be held in Asia before the 2026 edition will work against Sapporo.
The 2018 version will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, while the rights to the 2022 Games are expected to be awarded next year to either Beijing or Almaty, Kazakhstan.
“It’s fairly difficult to see the Winter Games coming to Asia three consecutive times,” Masumoto said. “It’s also just six years after Tokyo hosts the 2020 Summer Games.”
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.