Sapporo 2017 Aims to Grow Asian Winter Games

(ATR) A leader of the 2017 Asian Winter Games would like to make Sapporo the mecca of Asian winter sports.

(ATR) The secretary general of the Sapporo 2017 Asian Winter Games tells Around the Rings he would like the games to make Sapporo the mecca of Asian winter sports.

"It’s going to be bigger, with more and more spectators coming and more and more athletes joining our event," Ikushima Noriaki, a bid leader and vice mayor of Sapporo, said to ATR in Incheon.

Sapporo hosted the first and second Asian Winter Games in 1986 and 1990.

"Compared to the first and second Asian Winter Games the standard of living for the whole of Asia has been raised. We would like to make Sapporo a mecca for the Winter Sports."

In 2011, the Olympic Council of Asia decided the Asian Games cycle would switch the summer and winter games to one year before the Olympics. As a result, there is a six-year gap between the last Asian Winter Games in Astana-Almaty, Kazakhstan and the 2017 Games in Sapporo.

"Promoting the games has been the main issue for us. The organizing committee was established about a year and a half ago, so we are doing all we can," Noriaki said about the delay.

"Compared to the Olympics, the Asian Winter Games is not really popular yet, so we are trying to take every occasion - local events and everything - to promote the games."

The 2017 event should prove to be the largest Asian Winter Games ever, with Sapporo hoping to attract 1,200 athletes from 30 countries. Curling will make its debut in the games, but new Olympic discipline women’s ski jumping will not.

"There are not enough athletes to visit, so we don’t think it is going to be possible."

Sapporo hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics, and many venues from the games will be expanded for the Asian Winter Games. A future Olympic bid remains on the table.

"The city of Sapporo has been doing research on how much money it will cost to host another Winter Olympics. We have been listening to the citizen’s voices so far."

Written by Aaron Bauer

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