The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) has picked Sapporo as the nation’s candidate to host the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics as no other city put in a bid to host the Games.

The decision leaves many questions and issues unanswered.

When asked about the significance of bidding for the 2030 Games, JOC officials only said at a news conference that it will help “spread Olympism.” They offered no clear idea why Sapporo, which hosted the 1972 Winter Games, should hold the event for a second time. The JOC’s case is not enough to win broad public support.

Both Summer and Winter Olympics are now gigantic events that require huge financial and human input, as well as massive infrastructure. The ranks of cities that are able and willing to host Olympics are shrinking.

The International Olympic Committee has decided to change its long-standing policy of choosing the host city seven years ahead of time.

By making host city decisions earlier, the IOC is hoping to secure the long-term sustainability of the Olympics. But there are many unknowns about how the policy will be implemented.

The JOC has taken the first step toward a 2030 Winter Games before the IOC even works out the details of the new host city selection process. The JOC apparently believes Sapporo’s bid stands a good chance of success. But there are concerns about its headlong rush into the race.

Above all, the JOC is still facing bribery allegations concerning Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.

No serious investigation into the allegations has been made to provide convincing answers to the questions involved. The JOC has yet to fulfill its responsibility to respond to the allegations.

Seeking to win another Olympics under these circumstances raises doubt about the JOC’s perceptiveness. Clarifying the allegations must take priority.

The 1972 Winter Olympics radically changed the face of the northern city, leaving a host of good memories among its residents. Sapporo seems to be betting that a second Games would turn it into a major international tourist destination. But the city needs to understand that things have changed greatly in past decades, including financial factors concerning the Olympics.

Despite its slogan of “compact Olympics,” Tokyo’s plan for this year’s Summer Games has been plagued by a series of problems that forced the capital to make many significant changes to the original blueprint.

The new National Stadium design debacle, which led to the replacement of the original design due to cost reasons, is still fresh in our memories. There is still a lot of uncertainty as to how the stadium will be used after the event.

Sapporo needs to avoid making the same mistake.

Hosting an Olympics incurs enormous related expenses, in addition to costs directly linked to the event. Much of the expenses have to be eventually shouldered by taxpayers in the city where the Games are held as well as the nation as a whole.

Sapporo once considered putting in a bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics. The city needs to offer a clear-cut vision for an Olympics it hopes to stage as well as the benefits it expects that are back up by data. It should also provide estimates of the overall costs and their effects on the city’s finances as well as the expected environmental impact.

The IOC says a local referendum on a proposal to host the Olympics, if necessary, could be a good idea in an argument drawing on experiences of past votes held in Europe and the United States.

Sapporo has to take an effective step to assess what its residents think about the bid.

The municipal government should talk at length about both the advantages and disadvantages of hosting an Olympics so that residents can make up their own minds about the idea, which has huge implications for the future of the city.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 1