Sapporo, Japan Olympic Committee hit pause on Winter Games bid -Kyodo

FILE PHOTO: Olympic Rings are pictured in front of The Olympic House, headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the opening of the executive board meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in Lausanne, Switzerland September 8, 2022.Laurent Gillieron/Pool via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) -The city of Sapporo and the Japan Olympic Committee will pause active promotion of Sapporo's bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics for "a while", Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday, amid a widening corruption scandal in Japan over the Tokyo 2020 Games.

There have been several arrests in connection with suspected bid-rigging in connection with the Tokyo Games, and Sapporo's mayor was quoted last week as saying it might be difficult to carry out promotional activities under current conditions.

Kyodo gave no further information, and the Japan Olympic Committee was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to postpone its decision on the host city for 2030, citing concerns about climate change.

Sappporo and Salt Lake City in the United States are the only cities bidding to host the event after others pulled out.

Police in Japan raided the offices of several advertising agencies late in November as part of investigations into the Tokyo 2020 Olympics scandal. In August, Haruyuki Takahashi, a former member of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics board, was arrested on suspicion of receiving bribes from Olympic sponsors.

"The IOC has taken note of the allegations against some Japanese organisations involved in the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 and has utmost confidence in the Japanese authorities to fully investigate this matter," the Olympic body said in a statement.

The IOC has stated it aims to become "climate positive" by the end of 2024 by reducing its direct and indirect carbon emissions by 30%. Starting in 2030, Olympic host cities will also be contractually obligated to be "climate positive".

The IOC has said it might award the 2030 and 2034 host cities simultaneously to create stability for winter sports and the Winter Games, and that hosting rights may rotate "between a certain pool of cities and regions", as it faces a shrinking pool of potential bidders.

There were only two candidates for the 2022 Winter Games - Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan. The IOC chose Beijing by four votes. The 2026 Winter Games will be held in Milan-Cortina.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies, Additional reporting by Aadi Nair and Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond and Hugh Lawson)

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