Othman Almulla has heart set on teeing it up with Dustin Johnson and Co. in the Saudi International

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Almulla has already played in three European Tour events. (AAC)
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Updated 06 November 2018

Othman Almulla has heart set on teeing it up with Dustin Johnson and Co. in the Saudi International

  • Saudi No. 1 out to play in inaugural European Tour event to take place in Kingdom.
  • Almulla waiting to here if he has got an invite.

LONDON: Othman Almulla, Saudi Arabia’s No. 1 golfer, said it would be a dream come true if he is selected to play in the inaugural European Tour event in the Kingdom.
Almulla, 32, has already teed off at Tour events in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar, but to pound the fairways of the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in the Saudi International early next year would surpass all that. Almulla is waiting on the judgment of the Saudi Arabian Golf Federation to see if he will be given the chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey and Thomas Bjorn from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3.
“I hope to be considered,” Almulla said.
“There are a few of us being considered, but I think I’ve got a pretty good chance. It would be incredible if I was picked. I’m over the moon my country is hosting the tournament, but to play and share the course with these great players would be a dream. It’s just great to be part of the conversation.”
Almulla is the most decorated golfer from the Kingdom. He has won the Dubai Desert Classic qualifier, the Pan Arab Amateur Championship, the Qatar Open, the GCC Championship, the Saudi Golf Federation Open twice  and the Pan Arab Team Championship. He is in good form right now too, which should help his cause. Last month he became the first Saudi player to make the cut and shoot a sub-par round at the Asian-Pacific Amateur Championship, the region’s premier amateur tournament.
He said: "I am happy to make some history for my country but what would give me more satisfaction is if I can motivate a few youngsters to take up the game thinking that if I can do it, so can they. That would be the best outcome of my efforts here.”

American star Dustin Johnson is set to tee it up at the Royal Greens course early next year. 

Almulla will have the advantage of local knowledge should he be picked as he practices often at Royal Greens that the course in the district of Al-Murooj is like his “second home.”
“Royal Greens will host an amazing tournament,” he said. “It’s beautiful. The golf course is incredible and so is the hospitality. People will be a bit awestruck. It’s a world-class facility. I can’t wait to welcome the European Tour to my country.”
The course plays to a par of 72 and stretches along the Red Sea coastline. Construction first started in 2008 but it took until the end of 2017 for the clubhouse to open.
“How it plays will depend on the wind, with it being on the Red Sea,” said Almulla.
“There are a few courses in Riyadh that could have been considered, but Royal Greens is probably the best one. It has everything. The city is so beautiful and people will be pleasantly surprised.
“I’ve always been jealous of Dubai as they have 10 amazing courses and hosted big events, but now we have world-class courses in Saudi Arabia and a European Tour event. I never imagined this could happen. We are very lucky.”
The staging of a European Tour event in the Kingdom for the first time is a further example of the General Sports Authority’s bid to turn the country into a hotbed of top sporting events. This year the Kingdom has hosted the first ever women’s sports event in the shape of the Saudi Squash Masters; was home to the Race of Champions, the first ever motorsport event to take place in the country; staged the final of the World Boxing Super Series between Callum Smith and George Groves — while the plan is to stage the richest horse race in the world next year. The Italian Supercup will also take place in Riyadh in January. 
“I’m happy to share my country with the world,” said Almulla. “The European Tour does a great job in showcasing the game, but also the country. It doesn’t just showcase the golf, it showcases the history and culture of the country. We want people to come and look at how beautiful our customs and traditions are. If you are visitors we will treat you like family and we want to show the very best of the Arab culture.”

Mayor of town in north Japan bemoans lack of Olympic funds

Updated 15 September 2019

Mayor of town in north Japan bemoans lack of Olympic funds

  • Tokyo is reportedly spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games
  • Tokyo organizers have faced a series of hurdles as they prepare to host the games

TOKYO: The mayor of a town in northeastern Japan that will host Olympic soccer games says his city has received no funding from the central government that has promised to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to help in the reconstruction of the region.

The Japanese government and Tokyo 2020 organizers are hoping to use the Olympics to showcase Japan’s recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Several Olympic events, including soccer and baseball, will be held in northeastern Japan.

But with less than a year to go before the opening ceremony, Yutaka Kumagai, the mayor of Rifu in Miyagi Prefecture, says his city has seen no funding from the central government.

“There is no help from the government, we don’t have any budget from them, none,” Kumagai said on Saturday. “Tokyo 2020 is said to be a symbol of the reconstruction but when it comes to the budget, we don’t have any budget from the Olympic games here in Rifu.”

Kumagai made the comments during a media tour of Miyagi Stadium, a 49,000-seat facility in Rifu that will host men’s and women’s football at the 2020 Olympics.

About 50,000 people are still displaced in the Tohoku region as of August, according to the Reconstruction Agency. Yoshiaki Suda, the mayor of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture, concurred with Kumagai. Like Rifu, Onagawa is a coastal city that sustained heavy destruction.

“We haven’t received any subsidy, even one yen, from the central government,” Suda said. “Whatever we do for the venues, for the hospitality for the Olympics, we have to do ourselves.”

Some media reports have made the claim that the Olympics have hampered the reconstruction efforts, taking workers away from the region to help with construction in Tokyo.

Japan is one of the most earthquake- and tsunami-prone areas in the world. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 quake offshore caused a tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The quake and tsunami heavily damaged coastal neighborhoods in northeastern Japan and took more than 18,000 lives.

Tokyo, which projected total costs of about $7.5 billion in its winning bid for the games in 2013, is reportedly spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games.

A group of anti-Olympic activists, many from outside Japan, have held small protests and other events this summer under the Japanese title “Han-gorin no Kai” — which translates roughly to No Olympics. They oppose Olympic spending, which they say cuts into budgets for housing and environmental issues.

They also call for more money to rebuild Fukushima prefecture located northeast of Tokyo. Organizers say Fukushima is a main focus of the Olympics, staging baseball, softball and soccer games there to persuade the world the area is safe.

Tokyo organizers have faced a series of hurdles as they prepare to host the games. In August, Tokyo’s summer heat forced an Olympic women’s triathlon qualifying event to be shortened because of high temperatures that are likely to impact next year’s games.

Tsunekazu Takeda, the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, was forced to quit earlier this year when he was implicated in a vote-buying scheme to land the games. He has denied wrongdoing, but acknowledged he signed off on about $2 million that French investigators allege went to buy votes.