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Sapporo wants to push back 2026 Winter Olympic bid

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Sapporo, one of seven 2026 Winter Olympic bids, told the Japanese Olympic Committee it prefers to bid for the 2030 Winter Games instead, according to Japanese media.

Officials from Sapporo and the Japanese Olympic Committee are expected to hold talks soon, according to Jiji Press.

If Sapporo, which hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics, remains in the 2026 race after the IOC invites cities to the official candidate phase in October, it faces one clear obstacle, reportedly indicated by Sapporo mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto: The 2018 Winter Olympics were in PyeongChang and the 2022 Winter Games will be in Beijing.

IOC president Thomas Bach said he hopes the Winter Olympics can return to a more traditional location in 2026, which USOC chairman Larry Probst called “code for Europe or North America.”

2030 might not be much easier. The U.S. and Norway could both put forth strong bids.

Sapporo, which has been talked about as a potential 2026 bid city for more than three years, hosted the Asian Winter Games in 2017, as well as in 1986 and 1990.

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MORE: 2026 Winter Olympic bidding news

Another rival to potential 2026 U.S. Winter Olympic bid emerges

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Sapporo is reportedly expected to bid for the 2026 Winter Games now that it has approval from the Japan Olympic Committee.

The Japan committee’s vice president said that Sapporo, which hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics, is expected to announce its bid by the end of March deadline, according to Kyodo News.

The 2026 Olympics have one confirmed bid so far from Sion, Switzerland, though its future may hinge on a public vote. IOC members are expected to vote to choose the 2026 host city in 2019.

The U.S. Olympic Committee wants to bid for the 2026 or 2030 Winter Games, preferably 2030. Salt Lake City, the last U.S. Winter Olympic host city in 2002, Denver and Reno-Tahoe are possible U.S. bid cities.

The next two Winter Olympics in 2018 and 2022 will be in East Asia in PyeongChang, South Korea, and Beijing.

Japan is also hosting the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.

“I think [IOC president] Thomas Bach has publicly stated that he would like to see the Winter Games return to a more traditional location,” USOC chairman Larry Probst said in September. “So, to me, that’s code for Europe or North America. … We’ll have to monitor that, see what the situation looks like and then develop our strategy for whether we’re going to bid for the next Winter Games or longer than that.”

Sapporo, which has been talked about as a potential 2026 bid city for more than three years, hosted the Asian Winter Games this year, as well as in 1986 and 1990.

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MORE: 100 PyeongChang Olympic storylines

Sapporo mayor plans 2026 Winter Olympic bid

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Sapporo, the Japanese host of the 1972 Winter Olympics, may bid for the Winter Games again in 2026.

“Hosting the Olympic Games will lead Sapporo to a new stage,” Sapporo mayor Fumio Ueda told a city assembly meeting, according to Kyodo News, which reported two-thirds of 10,000 citizens surveyed supported a Sapporo bid. “An atmosphere to proceed to the dream [of hosting the Olympics] is being nurtured among citizens.”

The Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) will decide in 2016 whether or not to bid for the 2026 Winter Games, according to reports. The International Olympic Committee is set to choose the 2026 host city in 2019.

“It’s fantastic that a Japanese city is planning to bid and Sapporo is so passionate about it,” JOC president Tsunekasu Takeda told local media, according to Agence France-Presse. “But there are a lot of hurdles. Of course the JOC would like to see the plan at the earliest opportunity and consider it carefully.

The 2022 Winter Olympics host will be decided next summer, either Almaty, Kazakhstan, or Beijing. It will be the 11th straight city hosting the Winter Games for the first time, a streak Sapporo could break in 2026.

The last time a Winter Olympic host had previous experience in that capacity was Lake Placid in 1980. Lake Placid also hosted the 1932 Winter Games.

Japan is hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

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