• Kyodo


Three cities in the United States and Graz, Austria, are considering joining Sapporo and three others in the bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee said Tuesday.

On the first day of the IOC Session ahead of the Pyeongchang Games, Sapporo, Calgary, Stockholm and Sion, Switzerland, entered the dialogue or initial phase of the bid process, said Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s Olympic Games executive director.

Dubi said on top of those four cities, Denver, Reno-Tahoe and Salt Lake City from the United States, as well as Graz, have expressed interest. They have until the end of March to commit, and Dubi said the IOC will gladly lend a hand to any others that are thinking about running.

“We have this new process where we provide a lot of expertise up front and a number of technical visits with the four cities,” Dubi said. “We have until the 31st of March for any interested cities to sign at the bottom of the page and work with us for the rest of the (dialogue phase).

“So far we have seen interest from Austria and (United States). I’m certain that some of the delegations of the interested cities might join here. That’s very pleasing to us.”

He added: “(We are) very confident with that process. We think we’ve done the right thing to make it lighter, more engaging, more collaborative.”

Sapporo would be the third consecutive Asian city to host the Winter Games after Pyeongchang, which opens on Friday, and Beijing in 2022. Hokkaido’s capital previously hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics.

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