Sapporo rejects Olympic bid referendum

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TOKYO — The city of Sapporo in northern Japan on Monday rejected holding a referendum to give voters a choice to participate in the 2030 Winter Olympics.

The city assembly, controlled by the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan – which is also in charge of the national government – ​​declined to have a public vote. His meeting was streamed online.

Sapporo is known to be one of at least three candidates interested in hosting the 2030 Winter Games. The others are Salt Lake City and Vancouver. Spain has also expressed interest.

Salt Lake and Vancouver do not need referendums. One of the complications of a Spanish candidacy is pressure to hold a public vote.

When voters in other cities were given a choice, they consistently rejected hosting the Olympics, often citing cost and disruption.

Sapporo officials said a referendum was unnecessary as its poll shows 52% in favor of an Olympic bid.

Hitoshi Murakami, a member of the Japanese Communist Party who proposed the referendum, said the poll results were skewed since the survey took place shortly after the end of the delayed Tokyo Olympics last year.

The costs of the Tokyo Games were estimated at $13.6 billion, the majority of which was public money. Several government audits have shown the official cost to be much higher.

The International Olympic Committee is expected to award the 2030 Olympics at meetings next May in India’s western metropolis, Mumbai. It could also reward the 2034 Winter Olympics.

Sapporo has estimated the cost of hosting the Winter Olympics at $2.6 billion, although it is impossible to accurately estimate costs nearly eight years in advance. In addition, the Olympics regularly go over budget.

Assembly member Sawako Ishikawa who spoke in favor of the referendum said people should be allowed to express their views on an event crucial to the city’s spending and image.

Hideki Maruyama, a lawmaker opposed to the referendum, said the candidacy process was already moving forward. He said public opinion polls, various research and discussions involving business leaders had already taken place.

Paris hosts the 2024 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles in 2028 and Brisbane, Australia in 2032. The 2026 Winter Olympics are held in Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo.

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