Sapporo to abandon 2030 Winter Olympic bid: sources

The northern Japanese city of Sapporo has decided to abandon its bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics, multiple sources with knowledge of the matter said Thursday.

The move comes amid widespread bribery and bid-rigging scandals surrounding the Tokyo Games held in the summer of 2021 that have soured public sentiment toward hosting the Olympics.

On Friday, Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto did not confirm the reports, only saying he will meet with Japanese Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita in Tokyo on Oct. 11 to “talk about how we should proceed.”

Yamashita, who is visiting Hangzhou, China, for the Asian Games, said late Thursday, “There is nothing I can comment on right now.”

Residents of Sapporo showed a mixed reaction.

Some were hoping that the global sports event would help boost tourism and revive the local economy.

“I was looking forward to it because it would provide an opportunity to increase Hokkaido’s appeal,” said a 51-year-old man in Sapporo, who added he hopes the city will bid for the Olympics in 2034 or later.

Meanwhile, a man in his 70s said, “Due to the scandals, it’s difficult to hold the Sapporo Olympics. We should have expected the bid to be abandoned, so I’m not particularly surprised.”

Kazushige Niki, executive director of the Ski Association of Hokkaido, said, “While it’s disappointing, we remain committed to training young children aiming for 2034. We will also focus on initiatives that foster a positive mindset in our athletes.”

Sapporo, which hosted the games in 1972, was once considered the front-runner to host the Winter Olympics for a second time, but the International Olympic Committee appears to have shifted its focus to other candidates after the scandals linked to the Tokyo Games.

By Muhammad Hussain