Sapporo has today received approval from the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) to enter the continuous dialogue phase of the bidding process for the 2030 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
It follows the JOC's Executive Board meeting, held in Tokyo, to officially decide on a bid.
"The Japanese Olympic Committee Executive Board today selected Sapporo City to represent Japan as a potential city to host the Olympic Winter Games 2030," a statement from the organisation reads.
Earlier this month, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach took another opportunity to talk up a bid from Sapporo and claimed it would not "take forever" for the Future Host Commission to make a proposal on the venue for the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
Bach praised Sapporo for having laid a "very strong foundation" for a possible candidature for 2030 following a meeting with the city’s Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto at Olympic House in Lausanne.
He claimed the IOC could not find any major issues with the potential bid from the city, which has emerged as the clear favourite to land the hosting rights.
Today’s development was seen as a formality as Hokkaido, of which Sapporo is the capital, is the sole municipality to express an interest in bidding to the JOC.
"From November 8, 2019 to December 20, 2019, the JOC has invited cities interested in the 2030 bid whereby Sapporo City was the only city interested in participating in the process," the statement adds.
"The JOC will officially notify this decision to the International Olympic Committee within days.
"The JOC will continue to communicate closely with Sapporo City to promote the spirit of sport and the Olympic Movement in Japan."
Bach insisted a decision on the 2030 Games would depend on the speed of the IOC Future Host Commission, tasked with identifying and recommending potential venues for the Winter Olympics.
He pointed to the award of the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics to Gangwon Province in South Korea as an example how quickly the Commission - chaired by Romanian IOC member Octavian Morariu and which met with officials from Sapporo after the talks with Bach - can propose a host city.
Gangwon Province’s interest only surfaced in September and the region which hosted the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics was awarded the 2024 youth event just over three months later.
Bach claimed the IOC had been "very impressed" with Sapporo and said the city, which staged the 1972 Winter Olympics, was in a better position now than when it entered the race for the 2026 Games.
Sapporo withdrew from the race for the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in September 2018, expressing its intention to instead focus on bidding for the 2030 edition.
It is one of three cities to have expressed an interest in hosting a future edition of the Winter Games - along with Salt Lake City and Barcelona - but appears to be the frontrunner at this stage.