The head of the Japanese Olympic Committee says Sapporo may delay its bid for the Winter Olympics, going for 2034 instead of 2030.
Yashuhiro Yamashita indicated on Monday he would hold talks with Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto. Akimoto was re-elected on Sunday, overcoming challenges from two anti-Olympic opponents.
Despite the victory, the opposition was strong — much of it pegged to the ongoing corruption scandal around the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“It’s hard to go ahead with the original bid plan without gaining people’s understanding,” Yamashita was quoted as saying by Japan news agency Kyodo. He said it was “clear that many local residents are concerned and anxious.”
Yamashita took over the Japanese Olympic Committee in 2019 following another scandal involving then-president Tsunekazu Takeda. Takeda also stepped down as an IOC member, the post going to Yamashita.
Yamashita’s suggestion again leaves the International Olympic Committee struggling to find a host for the 2030 Winter Games. Vancouver, British Columbia, dropped out earlier when the provincial government said it would not finance the billion-dollar venture.
Salt Lake City is reported to have community support, but has said it prefers 2034, although it has left open 2030 as a possibility.
That would leave the United States holding the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, followed by Salt Lake.
Supporters of both Games have suggested the back-to-back configuration would force the two Games to share billions in advertising revenue and sponsorship.
However, the choice is up to the International Olympic Committee, which seems unlikely to name the venue until next year.
Two other known candidates for 2030 have jumped in recently, undoubtedly with encouragement from the IOC. Stockholm, Sweden, officials have said they would conduct a feasibility study. Swiss bidders have also shown preliminary interest.
Stockholm lost out in a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics to Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.