Sapporo’s bid for the 2030 Winter Games is getting a new push.

Reports in the Japanese media tout an increase in public support for the 2030 bid as well as stronger oversight to prevent a repeat of the ongoing bribery and bid-rigging scandal involving organizers of the 2020 Summer Games held in Tokyo in 2021.

The news comes after the Japanese Olympic Committee announced plans in mid-June to consider backing only bids for the 2034 Winter Games or later, citing a poll from earlier this year showing more than 60% of Sapporo residents don’t want to host in 2030.

“We should take more time and try to gain understanding from the public. Therefore, we opened things up for various possibilities,” a Japanese Olympic Committee board member, Keiko Momii, said then, according to Kyodo News.

Related
Salt Lake’s Winter Games bid ‘on the right track,’ U.S. Olympic official says

That was seen as taking Sapporo out of the race for 2030, leaving Salt Lake City and Vancouver, Canada; along with late entries from Sweden and Switzerland; and a location the International Olympic Committee has declined to identify.

The additional bidders came after the IOC delayed a decision on a host late last year. Not only was Sapporo’s bid struggling, but so was Vancouver’s, due to the provincial government’s unwillingness to provide needed financial backing. And Salt Lake City, the only candidate also publicly bidding to host in 2034, has a preference for waiting until then to avoid competing for domestic sponsorships with the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

But even though Sapporo’s 2030 bid was paused amid the fallout from the Tokyo Games scandal, there seems to be renewed interest in that date after April’s reelection of a pro-Olympics mayor.

Last week, a new poll conducted for Japan’s Jiji Press found just over 60% of people in Japan are now behind a 2030 bid from Sapporo, including just over 30% who say they’re “relatively on board with the plan.”

In Hokkaido, the region that includes Sapporo, the numbers were the lowest in Japan, but still hit 50%. The results led to GamesBids.com declaring, “Sapporo Winter Olympic bid still alive as public support stabilizes, but time is running out for 2030.”

Tuesday, the Yomiuri Shimbun Online reported officials in Sapporo have “revealed a draft management plan, including governance measures” such as relying on a committee of outside experts to select sponsors.

According to a translation of the newspaper article, sources said Sapporo will “properly separate outsourced work and conduct competitive bidding in principle, and even if it is difficult, we will have external experts deliberate and verify the outsourcing costs.”

Sapporo is also promising the process for selecting Olympic organizers will be public and top jobs will not go to individuals on loan from private companies, the article said, adding there would also be a separate oversight entity with “strong authority” established.

Related
Just how soon will the IOC pick the next Winter Olympics hosts?
‘We are ready’ for another Olympics, Utah lawmaker says at first legislative oversight meeting

Mark Conrad, director of the sports program at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business in New York City, doesn’t see much hope for Sapporo despite the latest efforts to bolster the 2030 bid.

Sweden is “going to waltz in because it’s almost been begged” by the IOC to get in the race, he said. Already, Sweden has advanced to what the IOC calls the “continuous dialogue” stage of the bid process, just like all of the other known contenders.

“Sweden will diminish Sapporo’s chances,” Conrad said. “The IOC was looking for a way to find a noncontroversial host for 2030 and Sweden could solve that problem and open 2034 to Salt Lake.”

Should Sapporo switch to seeking the 2034 Winter Games, Conrad previously speculated that could mean Salt Lake City, site of the 2002 Winter Games, might end up having to wait to host another Olympics until 2038 or beyond.

On Monday, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Chairman Gene Sykes spelled out once again that he believes IOC leaders want to give Salt Lake City another Winter Games, but whether that’s for 2030 or 2034 depends on if there’s a good choice for 2030.

“To be honest with you, we don’t really know, in 2030 or 2034, until we know whether there is an alternative 2030 host,” Sykes told reporters. “And that, I think, is still something that’s being developed by the IOC.”

In March, the USOPC board chairman said he believes “very strongly they understand the advantages Salt Lake City has to every other potential host,” and that the IOC also has “the same preference we do for 2034 — if possible.”’

IOC leaders could name their preferred picks for both 2030 and 2034 as soon as October, advancing those cities to contract negotiations under what’s known as “targeted dialogue.” A final vote by the full IOC membership on the Winter Games hosts is set for mid-2024.