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Sapporo gives up 2030 Winter Games bid: Japan Olympic boss

Sapporo has given up its bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee said on Wednesday, after corruption scandals over the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“JOC decided that proceeding with the bidding hastily but poorly could result in an incurable wound to the Olympics… so I proposed a change to our bidding for the Games to 2034 or later,” committee president Yasuhiro Yamashita told reporters.

Prosecutors are investigating allegations of bribery and bid-rigging at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, which were postponed to 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At least 11 people have been found guilty so far, according to Japan’s Kyodo News.

Sapporo had once been seen as a favourite to win the bid for the Winter Games but the number of potential hosts has dwindled. Other bids to have been withdrawn include Vancouver and Barcelona-Zaragoza.

Sapporo mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto said “distrust” in the Olympics had increased and there were “worries and concerns” among many residents about staging such a large event.

The JOC’s Yamashita said the cost of mounting the Games was also an issue.

Recent opinion polls have also shown that the bribery and bid-rigging scandals have dragged on public support.

Forty-seven percent of Sapporo voters were against hosting the 2030 Winter Games, according to a survey of 1,350 households conducted by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper in April.

A nationwide Asahi poll the month before had shown that as many as 60 percent nationwide were in favour.

Other polls indicated that the cost of the Games and distrust of Olympic officials were the main reasons behind opposition to the Games.

Even so, Akimoto said Sapporo would still seek to host its second Olympics and its first Paralympics.

Sapporo “is rich in natural snow… has experience in holding (international) competitions and has sports facilities and, on top of that, has a deep-rooted love for winter sports by its citizens,” he said.

The IOC had been due to announce the host city for this year but has postponed its decision until 2024, citing challenges presented by climate change.

The reality is that there are few candidates.

Sweden’s Olympic Committee has said it will go ahead with its bid for 2030, although Salt Lake City in the United States, host of the 2002 Winter Olympics, is also now expressing a preference for 2034 instead of 2030.

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