Tokyo Olympics scandal makes Sapporo bid ‘difficult’

FILE PHOTO: A spectator sits as volunteers walk beneath the logo during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, July 24, 2021.

FILE PHOTO: A spectator sits as a volunteer walks underneath the logo during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, July 24, 2021. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

A corruption scandal surrounding the Tokyo Olympics last year has hurt Japan’s bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics, a top local official warned.

Sapporo, in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, was considered the frontrunner to host the Winter Olympics for the second time, before Salt Lake City and Vancouver.

But Hokkaido governor Naomichi Suzuki believes an investigation into allegations of bribery in the selection of sponsors for the Tokyo Olympics is threatening to derail Sapporo’s bid.

“When you consider the range of issues related to the Tokyo Olympics, it is difficult to stay motivated with things as they are,” said Suzuki.

“I want the truth to be revealed as soon as possible. Unless we have thorough discussions and countermeasures to get everyone’s understanding, we won’t be able to move things forward.”

As part of their investigation, the Japanese police arrested Haruyuki Takahashia former Tokyo Games executive, on suspicion of accepting bribes to help the companies become official sponsors of the event.

The scandal has also engulfed a company that makes soft toys featuring the Olympic mascot, as well as a veston retailer, a publishing company and major advertising agencies.

And former prime minister Yoshiro Mori, who resigned as Tokyo 2020 president after making sexist comments, volunteered to be interviewed by prosecutors in September.

The 2020 Olympics have been pushed back to the summer of 2021 because of COVID.

Earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee decided to postpone the selection of the host country for the 2030 Winter Olympics, citing concerns about the impact of climate change.

The original host city was scheduled to be selected in the fall of 2023.

Hokkaido Governor Suzuki said he still believes hosting the Olympics will benefit the region.

“We will decide how to proceed, together with the Japanese Olympic Committee and the city of Sapporo, who are leading the bid,” he said.

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