February 21, 2006

Sapporo ditches bid to host 2016 Olympics

By Alastair Himmer

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sapporo on Tuesday pulled out of the race
to become Japan's bid city to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Sapporo's mayor Fumio Ueda said the northern Japanese city
decided to withdraw mainly due to the financial reasons,
leaving Tokyo and Fukuoka as Japan's two candidate venues.

The decision came despite support from within Japan's
ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition
partner the New Komeito party.

"The mayor felt he could not justify the financial burden
of hosting the Games," Sapporo city government's sports chief
Yoichi Kawai told Reuters.

"We also had to respect the fact there was not majority
support for the Olympics among the people of Sapporo. At this
present time it was unavoidable to pull out."

Ueda said Sapporo would have to bear around $2.1 billion of
the estimated total cost of $15.2 billion of hosting the Games.

Sapporo's city assembly voted in March 2005 to bid for the
Games but a city poll conducted last December showed just over
33 percent in favor and just over 35 percent against.

Either Tokyo or Fukuoka, in southern Japan, will probably
be selected as Japan's candidate city in August. Nagoya had
already pulled out of the bidding process.

Sapporo was the host city for the 1972 Winter Olympics and
Tokyo staged the 1964 Summer Games.