World (AP)

JOC, Sapporo announce decision to abandon bid for 2030 winter games, seek possible bid from 2034 on | AP News

JOC, Sapporo announce decision to abandon bid for 2030 winter games, seek possible bid from 2034 on | AP News

TOKYO (AP) — Officials from Sapporo and the Japanese Olympic Committee on Wednesday announced a decision to withdraw the northern Japanese city as a candidate to host the 2030 Winter Olympics, with the effort soiled by massive corruption and bid-rigging tied to the one-year delayed Tokyo Games.

Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto and JOC President Yasuhiro Yamashita, at a joint news conference in Tokyo, said they are withdrawing because of the lack of support from the citizens whose trust was largely lost because of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic corruption cases that erupted last year.

“We could not gain understanding from the citizens,” Akimoto told reporters. “There has been a widespread sense of uneasiness among the citizens about the criminal cases related to the 2020 Tokyo Games, and they are also worried about their financial burden for hosting the games.”

Prior to the announcement, the two officials met in Tokyo to finalize their decision. It comes just as Stockholm, Sweden, is now seen as the favorite for 2030 and Salt Lake City almost certain to be picked for 2034 by the International Olympic Committee.

The two officials said they will continue to seek Sapporo’s possible candidacy for 2034 or later, but chances are considered slim and their talk for 2034 is seen as an attempt to save face.

The widespread scandal has tarnished the Olympic image in Japan and dented Sapporo’s bid.

At its center is a former executive at powerful advertising company Dentsu who joined the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee in 2014. Haruyuki Takahashi, who used great influence in arranging sponsorships for the games, says he is innocent and his trial has yet to begin.

Fifteen people at five companies face trial in the bribery scandal. Among them are Aoki Holdings, a clothing company that provided uniforms for Japan’s Olympic team; Sun Arrow, which made the mascots; and Japanese publishing house Kadokawa, whose executive was found guilty on Tuesday of bribing Takahashi.

Japan officially spent about $13 billon to hold the 2020 Games, though a government audit has suggested the true amount might be twice that much.


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