International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach on Monday welcomed Sapporo's potential bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics and played down Japanese concerns that the city will be at a disadvantage given that East Asia already has the 2018 and 2022 Winter Games.

Asked whether the IOC thought the Games should be spread wider than East Asia, Bach said, "You forget 2024, and that looks like it will not be in Asia in 2024. So for 2026, as for all the others, the doors are open," Bach told a press conference.

"But the number of bidding cities in winter has always been limited. For 2018, we had three candidates and this is already for geographical reasons," he told a press conference.

"There are not so many winter sport destinations in the world, it's only in three continents and it's only very special places in these continents. So there you cannot compare winter and summer, also in this respect."

Pyeongchang in South Korea has won the right to stage the 2018 Winter Games, while the IOC last week at its four-day session in Kuala Lumpur voted to hand the 2022 event to Beijing over Almaty in Kazakhstan.

Last week Bach said, "We have always in the IOC a kind of informal rotation of Olympic host cities, but we also have to see in the past this was very much Europe-centered."

"And now with the real globalization of the world, the growing importance of Asia, not only in sport but in all areas of life, I think it is more or less normal that we have more Olympic Games taking place in Asia."

Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, in November announced its intention to host the 2026 Winter Games.

If selected it would be Sapporo's second Winter Olympics, after it staged the event in 1972.