It has been 50 years since Sapporo held the Winter Olympics, but the influence of the global sporting event lives on, even as the city gathers support for its bid for the 2030 Games. Local officials have claimed Sapporo 2030 would be sustainable and affordable, largely due to the reuse, albeit with renovation, of numerous facilities constructed for the Games half a century ago.

Of course, Sapporo is not the only Olympic city to have benefited from improved infrastructure as well as sporting and cultural amenities after hosting the event. Nevertheless, its Games legacy is unique, according to academics, local government officials and other experts. The 1972 Sapporo Olympics boosted the city not only in terms of the physical environment, but also economically, culturally and socially. So, how did the largest city in Hokkaido make such a mark?

As the first Winter Olympics to be held in a region outside of Europe or North America, the 1972 Sapporo Games put Asia on the map for winter sports. It enabled Sapporo to become “a model for cities in snowy climates” and “a winter sports hub in Asia,” according to a paper by the International Olympic Committee. What’s more, the event “demonstrated that Asia could successfully stage the Olympic Winter Games,” thereby paving the way for further Winter Games in Asia — namely Nagano in 1998, PyeongChang in 2018 and the upcoming 2022 Beijing Games, which are slated to be held from Feb. 4 to 20.