The head of sports affairs in Sapporo, Japan, said that bidding for the 2026 Olympics has "special meaning for Japan's northern city," according to KYODO. Toshiya Ishikawa, the director general of Sapporo's sports affairs bureau, said, "Winter sports have become popular in Asia with more people participating, so (hosting the Games) will lead to a surge in inbound tourists. The city is aiming to become a hub for sports in Asia." Earlier this month, the IOC announced five other cities and one "united effort by three Italian cities" expressed an interest in hosting the 2026 Games. Sapporo, the capital city of Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics (KYODO, 4/26).