Yasuhiro Yamashita, the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, acknowledged that the biggest stumbling block in staging the Olympics was the billions in cost.
However, in another breath on Tuesday at a so-called “All Japan” meeting to promote Sapporo’s bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics, he said if the northern Japanese city wins the Games, little news constructions will be required – a major expense for any Olympic Games.
“From inside and outside our country, there are many opinions about hosting the Olympics and Paralympics,” Yamashista said, among politicians and business leaders online — and in Sapporo — talking about the candidacy. “I realize there are also concerns about the huge costs involved.”
The official cost of the delayed Tokyo Olympics last year was $13.6 billion, although government audits suggest it could have been much higher. At least 60% was public money.
Yamashita referred to a new host selection policy promoted by the International Olympic Committee, which for decades encouraged the construction of shiny new arenas and stadiums that quickly became white elephants.
“It’s no longer about building something for the event, it’s about hosting the event to build the city,” Yamashita said.
Sapporo, Salt Lake City, Vancouver and Barcelona, as well as parts of the Pyrenees, are known to be interested in 2030. It is also possible that the IOC will award the 2034 Games simultaneously as it did 4 years ago and half by nominating Paris for the 2024 Olympics and Los Angeles for 2028.
Under the largely opaque new process, the IOC is not confirming any candidates in the early stages. Candidates can promote themselves as publicly as they wish – or as little.
“I’m very confident that we have an all-Japanese approach to our bid,” said Keigo Iwata, who leads the Sapporo committee.
Here’s what we know so far.
IOC technical teams have traveled to Salt Lake and Vancouver in recent weeks. The three-person teams had no comment. A team is expected to travel to Sapporo later this month. No visits to Spain are known to be scheduled.
Salt Lake and Sapporo will not hold public referendums on the offers. Vancouver also seems unlikely to hold one, while reports in Spain indicate it is needed. Referendums have killed off many Olympic bids – especially in Europe – with the public rarely approving when asked.
Salt Lake and Sapporo projected similar costs – between $2.2 billion and $2.6 billion. Neither Vancouver nor Barcelona have publicly announced cost figures. Olympic costs typically exceed budget, and it is impossible to accurately estimate costs nearly a decade from now.
Sapporo and Salt Lake seem to be the leaders. Salt Lake has nearly all the venues in place since its 2002 Winter Olympics. Fraser Bullock, who leads the bid committee, said he expects to land in 2030 or 2034.
The only hurdle for Salt Lake in 2030 is the fact that Los Angeles would have to host the 2028 Summer Games. That would put the Olympics in the United States twice in an 18-month period.
Sapporo, which hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics, will likely also use facilities from the 1998 Nagano Winter Games. Nagano recently paid off the debt from hosting those Games.
Sapporo also got high marks from the IOC for hosting the marathon and marches for the year-delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Vancouver has the allure of being Canada’s first “Indigenous-led” bid led by First Nations. It also has many venues in place since the 2010 Winter Games, but appears to be behind the other two in bid preparations.
The new bidding process was partly due to the fallout from the vote-buying scandals that sullied the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. The bid for the 2002 Salt Lake Games was also caught up in a corruption scandal.
The IOC could choose the venue for 2030 in May 2023 during meetings in the western Indian metropolis of Mumbai. IOC members will have to fully endorse the recommendations of the Executive Board and IOC President Thomas Bach. Double allocation is also possible.
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