Japanese City is Frontrunner for 2030 Winter Olympics, Claims It Can Cut Costs of Event

The Japanese city of Sapporo is the frontrunner to host the 2030 Winter Olympics after the mayor claimed Monday they can cut costs to make the event less expensive, the Associated Press reported.

The city of Sapporo previously hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics. Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto said at a news conference that at least 92 percent of the venues would be existing structures thus helping reduce the cost of hosting the event.

It is unknown what the costs are to refurbish the existing venues. It's hard to predict the expenses accurately when the event is almost a decade away. Almost all recent Olympics have gone over their projected cost in hosting the event, according to a University of Oxford study.

Akimoto acknowledged the concerns about the costs, especially after the country recently held the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

"People have expressed hopes, too, but they are especially worried about the heavy cost burden in the future," Akimoto said.

Sapporo officials projected the event to cost between $2.5-$2.65 billion. Officials said money from taxpayers will account for $700 million and the rest would come from sponsors, ticket sales and the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC has not said when they will be selecting the 2030 Winter Olympics host city.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

 Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic, Olympic Rings
The Japanese city of Sapporo is the frontrunner to host the 2030 Winter Olympics after the mayor claimed Monday they can cut costs to make the event less expensive. The Olympic Rings are pictured at the biathlon shooting range ahead of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 7, 2018. JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images

Officials said the projected cost for the 2030 Olympics was a 20 percent reduction over estimates made in 2019.

The official cost of the just-completed Tokyo Summer Olympics was listed at $15.4 billion. Some think the real costs were twice as large, and all but about $6 billion was public money.

Akimoto said at a news conference he would conduct a public opinion survey early next year. He did not indicate what effect it would have on a decision to pursue another Olympics.

However, a statement distributed by organizers on Monday suggested the decision had already been made to proceed.

"We will communicate our ideas about the bid for the Games and figure out the expectations and concerns of the public about the Winter Olympics and Paralympics," the statement said. "Those opinions will be incorporated into all future planning studies."

Kio Momoi, a Sapporo resident, said she found it disturbing the bid was proceeding without any democratic consultation or discussion.

"If you are going to spend that kind of money, there are a lot more meaningful things that can use that money," she said in a recent telephone interview. "They don't care about regular people's lives. No one came and asked us what we thought, but the powers that be made the decision."

Sapporo is only one of several cities expressing interest. They include the Spanish regions of Aragon and Catalonia, a possible bid from Ukraine, 2010 host city Vancouver, and some interest for 2030 or 2034 from Salt Lake City, which held the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Sapporo has frontrunner status, largely because it's ahead with its planning, and also because the International Olympic Committee is beholden after Tokyo incurred almost $3 billion in added costs because of the one-year pandemic delay.

The IOC no longer goes through a long bid process to pick host cities. They are now chosen by the Olympic body's leadership, and decisions have been taken out of the hands of rank-and-file IOC members.

The change came as the two most recent Summer Olympics—Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo—had bids soiled by allegations that IOC members were bribed for their votes.

Former IOC member Carlos Nuzman of Brazil was sentenced recently to 30 years in prison for, among other things, bribing IOC members in the 2009 vote for 2016.

He is appealing the conviction.

Tsunekazu Takeda resigned in 2019 as an IOC member and head of the Japanese Olympic Committee when he became embroiled in bribery allegations over bidding for the Tokyo Olympics. He denied any wrongdoing.

The IOC has already selected its Games venues through 2032, save for the 2030 Winter Olympics. They are: Beijing in 2022; Paris in 2024; Milan-Cortina in 2026; Los Angeles in 2028; and Brisbane, Australia in 2032.

"There is no fixed timeframe for electing a host for 2030, or any other edition of the Olympic Games," the IOC said in a statement to The Associated Press. "The Future Host Commissions, which oversee and monitor interest in future Games, are guided by strategic opportunities for the Olympic Movement and the global context."

Winter Olympics, Sapporo, Japan, 1972
The northern Japanese city of Sapporo is set to announce on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, what it says will be a reduction in costs that will make it an attractive venue for the 2030 Winter Olympics. Above, 14 athletes of the 14 teams compete in the men's Olympic 4x10 kilometers cross country relay in Sapporo, February 12, 1972, at the start of the race. File/AP Photo