In August, Haruyuki Takahashi, a former member of the Tokyo Games organizing committee, was arrested. And new corruption charges were brought against him last week as part of an ongoing investigation.
This scandal falls badly for Sapporo which has as adversaries Vancouver and Salt Lake City. These suspicions of corruption implicate major figures in business and politics.
Japanese Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita canceled his planned visit to Lausanne in mid-September to discuss this bid with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), citing a scheduling problem.
The mayor of Sapporo Katsuhiro Akimoto, who was also to be on the trip, explained that this cancellation had no
nothing to do with the corruption case around the Tokyo Olympics.
But the cancellation has grabbed headlines across Japan as investigators continue to conduct searches.
In an editorial, the daily Asahi Shimbun called Sapporo at
pause his candidacy until the corruption investigations are resolved. The same newspaper had demanded the cancellation of the Tokyo Games two months before their kickoff.
But can the IOC do without the candidacy of Sapporo, the cities showing themselves to be more and more reluctant to spend fortunes to host the Games?
If Sapporo shows up, their candidacy is very good from a technical point of viewsaid Michael Payne, director of marketing at the IOC between 1989 and 2004, who played a major role in the financial transformation of the Games thanks to the partnership with the sponsors.
I think it is above all a local political problemhe added.
For sports economics expert Andrew Zimbalist, the scandal
will continue to be a problem in Japanbut
will fade into international memory.
According to him, Japanese officials will
just acknowledging to the IOC that they’ve had nefarious actors involved and they’re going to clean up.
Andrew Zimbalist still believes that the changes in the qualification process will help Sapporo which
has so many assets that they will weigh more than the distant memory of this scandal.
Now the process is now taking place away from the public eye and there is flexibility both on the number of candidates and the date of choosing a host city.
The only deadline is for confirmation, which is expected to take place in fall 2023, instead of spring, at the IOC session in Mumbai, India.
But local disputes could force the IOC to relocate the meeting. The meeting which was to take place in May has been postponed to September.
More time for Vancouver
This postponement gives a few more months to the other two candidates, Vancouver and Salt Lake City, to refine their file.
There will be municipal elections in Vancouver on October 15. If a new administration were to replace the current mayor, Kennedy Stewart, it could delay discussions with the provincial government about its contribution to Vancouver’s bid. A response is expected in late fall.
Recall that the group that wants to organize the 2030 Games, led by the First Nations, estimates that it will cost between 3.5 and 4 billion dollars and plans a public-private partnership to achieve this.
The Vancouver 2030 bid committee is refusing to comment on rumors of corruption in Japan, and is focusing, it says, on its own file.