IOC member Yamashita Yasuhiro led the JOC delegation on its visit to the Milan Cortina 2026 headquarters ©Getty Images

A Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) delegation led by President Yamashita Yasuhiro has travelled to Italy to meet with the Organising Committee for the Milan Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

The visit with comes amid a bid from the Japanese city of Sapporo to stage the following edition of the Winter Games in 2030.

Sapporo is one of three cities expected to be in the running to stage the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, the others being Vancouver and Salt Lake City.

Milan Cortina 2026 President Giovanni Malagò and chief executive Vincenzo Novari welcomed the JOC representatives to the Organising Committee's headquarters in Milan.

During the JOC's visit, Milan Cortina 2026 officials outlined developments in preparations for the Games.

Malagò wrote on Twitter that the meeting was held in "the name of friendship, passion for sport and the universality of the Olympic message".

Yasuhiro, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), led the JOC delegation.

Sapporo has previously held the Winter Olympics in 1972.

The bid for 2030 has faced some opposition in the northern Japanese city and the capital Tokyo, with a handful of protestors gathering last month holding "No Olympics" banners and raising concerns over the cost of staging the multi-sport event.

However, Sapporo is considered the frontrunner.

Sapporo officials have estimated the cost of the Games would be $2.6 billion (£2.2 billion/€2.6 billion) and intend to use facilities from when the city hosted the event in 1972 to cut costs.

The City Assembly has rejected a proposal to stage a referendum on the bid.

IOC technical inspections have taken place in Sapporo, Vancouver and Salt Lake City, but a Pyrenees-Barcelona bid collapsed following weeks of infighting, notably between the Governments of Catalonia and Aragon.

The 2030 Winter Games is set to be the first edition awarded under the IOC's new process whereby its Future Host Commission identifies bidders, engages in dialogue with relevant parties and proposes its preferred candidate to the Executive Board.

The Executive Board can then recommend a proposal be brought to a vote at an IOC Session.

A host city is expected to be finalised at next year's IOC Session in Mumbai, although President Thomas Bach has downplayed the possibility of a double award for the 2030 and 2034 Games.

The 2030 Games are due to follow on from Milan Cortina 2026, where the Winter Olympics are due to run from February 6 to 22 and the Winter Paralympics from March 6 to 15.