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Sapporo and Niseko: The Future of Winter Sports in a Warming World

Author: Jo Lodder


 Sustainability and Authenticity

"It could even trigger a broader shift globally, where the world's best ski resorts are those that naturally offer the authentic winter sports experience, prioritizing environmental sustainability by avoiding reliance on resource-intensive snowmaking technology."

Investment and the Future of Skiing

Sapporo Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics face a dire predicament in the era of climate change. Without dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the group concluded, only one of the 21 previous locations — Sapporo — would be able to provide reliably fair and safe conditions for snow sports by the end of the century.


Niseko's incredible champagne snow

Yet, amidst this crisis lies a unique opportunity for Sapporo and the broader Hokkaido region of Japan.

Historically renowned for its reliable snowfall, a trend only strengthened by climate change, Sapporo offers a potential solution for the Winter Games. as one of the last places capable of reliably hosting.


This presents intriguing potential. While many traditional ski resorts struggle in a warming world, Sapporo and Niseko are experiencing heavier snowfalls, creating the kind of snowpack that winter sports enthusiasts crave. This recent surge in snow has occasionally even overwhelmed Sapporo's ability to manage, as highlighted in the recent Japan Times article.


Investment and the Future of Skiing

This abundance of natural snow in Japan raises exciting questions for skiers and the broader winter sports industry. Should investment heavily favour destinations like Niseko, where snowmaking machines are not needed? With this snow guarantee, could Niseko-Sapporo represent the most viable, climate-resilient way to hold the Winter Olympics?


Of course, challenges remain. Residents of Sapporo have expressed concerns about the cost of hosting the Olympics, particularly with recent experiences of heavier-than-expected snowfall already straining the city's budget. An honest assessment will have to balance the economic benefits versus the realities of climate adaptation and infrastructure costs.


Clearing the snow after a huge snow dump in Sapporo

Sustainability and Authenticity

An Olympics held in Sapporo-Niseko could promote a new model of environmentally conscious games. With less reliance on artificial snow and its environmental impacts, these locations offer a way back to the core essence of winter sports, built on pristine natural conditions.


This focus on authenticity could attract athletes and spectators drawn to a less manufactured Olympic experience. It could even trigger a broader shift globally, where the world's best ski resorts are those that naturally offer the authentic winter sports experience, prioritizing environmental sustainability by avoiding reliance on resource-intensive snowmaking technology.


JAPOW snow in Niseko

The Way Forward

The path to a more sustainable Winter Olympics might just lie in the snowy landscapes of Hokkaido. Whether in Sapporo, Niseko, or a combination of locations, the conversation must address how to leverage the natural assets of these areas. Perhaps the future of the Winter Games hinges on showcasing a model deeply connected to the very elements that make these sports possible.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any individual, organization, or entity.


 

Jo Lodder is a leading figure in the property industry, serving as the co-founder of JNW Properties Ltd, a dynamic property marketing firm specializing in Niseko projects. His entrepreneurial drive is underscored by notable accomplishments, notably becoming the first individual to conquer the challenging HK5Trails. Complementing his business acumen, Jo is also an avid sustainability practitioner, leveraging his expertise to champion eco-conscious practices within the property sector. Additionally, through his philanthropic endeavours with Action Asia Foundation, he demonstrates a commitment to making a tangible impact, particularly in enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities in Hong Kong.


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