The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday named Salt Lake City, Utah, as its preferred host for the 2034 Winter Olympics, extinguishing Sapporo's hopes of hosting the games.
The northern Japan city had explored the possibility of hosting in 2034 after dropping its bid for the 2030 Winter Games in the wake of bid-rigging and bribery scandals linked to the Tokyo Olympics held in the summer of 2021.
At its meeting in Paris, the IOC executive board picked the French Alps and Salt Lake City in the western United States as preferred hosts for the 2030 and 2034 Games, respectively.
The board also indicated Switzerland is the front-runner to subsequently host after inviting it into a "privileged dialogue" for the 2038 Games.
Having withdrawn its 2030 bid on Oct. 11, Sapporo was left with little time to mount a new bid for 2034 when the IOC announced days later that it would choose its 2030 and 2034 hosts at the same time.
The IOC said in a statement that it will enter more detailed discussions with the preferred 2030 and 2034 hosts, with the aim of formally awarding both games at a session in Paris in July next year.
Japanese Olympic Committee executive Mitsugi Ogata said the JOC would continue exploring options for staging future Winter Olympics in Sapporo or elsewhere in Japan.
"We would like to have thorough discussion with Sapporo about what will happen from 2038 onwards. We'll look at what activities we can undertake without looking backward," Ogata said.
"We would like to make a bid in some form. Since we now have time, we want to have more thorough dialogue than ever with candidate cities (in Japan), starting with Sapporo," he added.
Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto is considering formulating a policy about a potential 2038 bid by the end of this year.
Salt Lake City, which hosted the 2002 Winter Games, had long been favored to hold another edition and won praise from the IOC for having strong support for its bid from the public and all levels of government in the United States.
Karl Stoss, chairman of the IOC Future Host Commission for the Winter Games, said both the French Alps and Salt Lake City also stood out for their "vision for the athlete experience" and plans for socioeconomic development in the host regions and countries.
"The commission felt strongly that the other interested parties would benefit from more time to optimize the athlete experience of their future games, and to continue to build on their burgeoning foundations of public and political support," Stoss said in a statement.
Sapporo's attempt to become a two-time Winter Olympic city, having first hosted in 1972, hit a succession of hurdles since an initial plan to bid for the 2026 Games was derailed by a magnitude 6.7 earthquake that struck Hokkaido in September 2018.
The city subsequently struggled to convince a skeptical public about the merits of hosting in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the corruption scandals surrounding the Tokyo Games.
A former executive from the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee and another from advertising giant Dentsu were among those indicted on suspicion of involvement in rigging bids for contracts worth around 43.7 billion yen ($300 million) to plan and run Olympic test events and competitions.
Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive of the organizing committee and previously a senior managing director at Dentsu, was earlier indicted on charges of receiving bribes in return for helping companies gain selection as Olympic sponsors or marketing agents.