• Kyodo

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The northern Japanese city of Sapporo announced Monday a significant cut to its projected hosting costs for the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, slashing the budget by ¥90 billion ($790 million) or 20% of its initial estimate.

Sapporo, which hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics, is considered a leading candidate to win the right to host the events, but local residents have expressed concern about a repeat of this year's Tokyo Games budget blowout.

In its initial budget in 2019, the city expected costs to total between ¥310 billion and ¥370 billion. On Monday, Sapporo revised that downward to a range of ¥280 billion to ¥300 billion.

"I believe we can substantially dispel the anxiety of the public with the amendment," Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto said during a news conference.

Tokyo spent ¥1.64 trillion to stage the 2020 Summer Games that were postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic and related issues.

According to the revised proposal, operational costs will be reduced by ¥10 billion to ¥30 billion from the ¥230 billion initially budgeted, while infrastructure development costs will come in at the lower end of the previously outlined ¥80 billion to ¥140 billion range.

Sapporo said it plans to cover all operational costs through sponsorship and ticket revenue. The city will, however, shoulder the ¥45 billion cost of upgrading infrastructure and venues, within the earlier estimate of ¥40 billion to ¥60 billion.

Apart from Sapporo Dome, which will be used for the opening and closing ceremonies, the number of competition venues that will be used for the games was reduced from 15 to 13. No new venues will need to be constructed to host the 2030 Games, Sapporo said.

Some of the events will be held in Obihiro, east of Sapporo, Niseko, southwest of Sapporo, and Nagano, the host city for the 1998 Winter Olympics, located on Japan's main island, some 170 kilometers northwest of Tokyo.

Sapporo announced plans to host the 2026 Winter Olympics in 2014. In November 2016, it said that the cost of hosting would be about ¥453.7 billion.

But after a deadly earthquake rocked Hokkaido in 2018, Sapporo pushed back its hosting aspirations by four years and instead focused on 2030.

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