Mayor of Sapporo Katsuhiro Akimoto has promised unrivalled hospitality during the course of this week’s Asian Winter Games in the Japanese city.
While the Games will official get underway with the Opening Ceremony at the Sapporo Dome on Sunday (February 19), competition will begin with preliminary curling and ice hockey matches tomorrow.
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) are based at the Sapporo Grand Hotel in the city centre, with Akimoto asserting staff and volunteers are ready to provide all the information and services for an enjoyable stay.
“I am truly thrilled that this will be the third time Sapporo has hosted the event in the last 30 years,” said Akimoto, who is also head of the Sapporo 2017 Organising Committee.
“The many people who will come to Sapporo and Obihiro from countries and regions across Asia will be welcomed with unrivalled hospitality.
“This is expected to promote new exchanges as well as highlighting the appeal of the host cities and of Hokkaido as a whole.”
A warm welcome has been promised to athletes, coaches, officials and guests by the organisers before the Games, which will run until February 16.
Organisers have held team welcome ceremonies to greet the NOCs as they arrive for the competition.
The also includes the Games hotel lobby displaying miniature flags of the competing National Olympic Committees.
A big banner has also been placed outside the hotel featuring the Asian Winter Games mascot Ezomon, which is modelled on a special kind of flying squirrel, only found in the Hokkaido region of Japan.
Five sports, 11 disciplines and 64 events are due to be contested at the Games, which are due to take place until February 26.
Athletes from Australia and New Zealand are due to compete alongside Asian countries for the first time, although they will not be eligible to win medals.