Tokyo, Japan: The Japanese city of Sapporo has changed its bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics to 2030 following an earthquake in Hokkaido which left 41 dead and caused widespread damage, the International Olympic Committee confirmed Monday.
Olympic and local officials said last week they were considering changing the dates because "the 2030 option will be a better environment to host the Games", city official Akihiro Okumura told AFP.
Following a meeting in Lausanne on Monday between representatives of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), the City of Sapporo, and the IOC, the IOC confirmed the decision in a statement which said: "The Japanese National Olympic Committee and the IOC agreed today that the IOC would not put Sapporo on the list of candidates for the Olympic Winter Games 2026, but to continue with the close dialogue already underway for the Olympic Winter Games 2030."
It added: "The IOC expressed its understanding that recovery from the earthquake in the region should be the immediate principal focus but greatly appreciated the continued strong commitment as a future host for the Olympic Winter Games."
A new Candidature Process means potential hosts have a one-year non-committal Dialogue Stage in which to interact with the IOC and discuss how hosting the Games can serve their long-term goals and leave lasting legacies.
The IOC said: "The City of Sapporo and the Japanese NOC made it clear that they remain strongly interested in a candidature for the Olympic Winter Games 2030."