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Sapporo presents bid plan for 2026 Olympic Games

The Japanese city of Sapporo has stepped up its efforts to land the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games after presenting a bid plan to the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC).

According to the Kyodo news agency, Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto met JOC president Tsunekazu Takeda yesterday (Tuesday) in Tokyo to discuss the initial proposal.

Sapporo’s plans include proposals to utilise existing facilities, including sites that were used during the city’s hosting of the 1972 Games, in an effort to keep costs to between an initial target of 430 billion yen (€3.7bn/$4.1bn) and 450 billion yen.

The Olympic Village would be built near to the Sapporo Dome, which could be used to host the opening and closing ceremonies to the Games. Organisers have also pledged that 90 per cent of other venues will be located within 30 minutes of the athletes’ village.

The JOC will now scrutinise the plans ahead of the expected confirmation of the bidding procedure by the International Olympic Committee early next year. Hosting rights are set to be awarded in 2019.

“We want Sapporo to be an Asian base for winter sports,” Akimoto said. “I asked him (Takeda) to think about Japan's bidding to host the 2026 Olympics.”

Akimoto acknowledged that the next two editions of the winter Games are also due to take place in Asia, with PyeongChang in South Korea to host the 2018 Games and Beijing in China the 2022 edition, while Tokyo, Japan, will host the 2020 summer Olympics. However, Akimoto’s pledge to keep costs down could work in Sapporo’s favour, with the Tokyo 2020 Games expected to cost more than 3 trillion yen.

“We want to propose a sustainable Olympics so that we would not end up leaving behind a negative legacy,” Akimoto said.

The Austrian Olympic Committee (AOC) last month said it will conduct a feasibility study into a bid to return the winter Games to Innsbruck for a third time in 2026. Stockholm in Sweden and four regions in Switzerland – as well as Calgary, Canada, and 2022 bid runner-up Almaty, Kazakhstan, have also expressed an interest in bidding for the Games.