First desert polo tournament kicks off in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla as part of Winter at Tantora

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The first ever AlUla desert polo championship launched on Thursday with the two-day tournament kicking off during the second season of the Winter at Tantora Festival. (Supplied)
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The first ever AlUla desert polo championship launched on Thursday with the two-day tournament kicking off during the second season of the Winter at Tantora Festival. (SPA)
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The first ever AlUla desert polo championship launched on Thursday with the two-day tournament kicking off during the second season of the Winter at Tantora Festival. (Supplied)
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Updated 17 January 2020

First desert polo tournament kicks off in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla as part of Winter at Tantora

ALULA, Saudi Arabia: The first ever AlUla desert polo championship launched on Thursday with the two-day tournament kicking off during the second season of the Winter at Tantora Festival.
The event is organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and in cooperation with the Saudi Polo Federation.

A group of the most prominent international polo players will be competing in the tournament including the founder of the La Dolfina Polo Team, 10-goal handicapped, Adolfo Cambiaso. Other notable players include David Stirling, Pablo Mac Donough, and Argentinian Nacho Figueras.
For his part, Chief Executive Officer at RCU, Amr Al-Madani, said: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia seeks to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of AlUla while promoting its unique landscape. A city that is rich with anthropological findings, historical anecdotes, and a depth of civilization.”
He added: “Hosting the Desert Polo Tournament during the Winter at Tantora Festival provides a global platform which will help define the value of a city rooted in the core of history. It is also a tribute to the regions great equestrian tradition and a big contribution toward achieving the goals of Vision 2030.”

Amr Hussein Zidan, the President of the Saudi Polo Federation, also commented: “AlUla Desert Polo is not only a new concept; it is also the first official tournament organized by the Saudi Polo Federation. The organization was established in July 2018 as a means to develop the sport in the Kingdom, implement international best practices and help enthusiasts compete at elite levels of the competition.”
AlUla is a perfect setting to launch the Desert Polo Tournament as it is characterized by its unique location and its great historical and cultural significance to the Kingdom and the world. The exceptional site of the city and its charming nature provides links to ancient civilizations and paints an accurate picture of past life, memories, and the stories of the long-gone dwellers of the old city.


The Desert Polo Tournament is one of the major events taking place during the Winter at Tantora Festival. Over the course of 12 weeks, the festival will present a variety of activities that merge eastern and western culture embodying AlUla’s heritage as a meeting point for difference civilizations from around the world throughout history.
Winter at Tantora Festival offers a wide range of diverse experiences that cater to all tastes from all walks of life. The festival will take place every weekend starting 19th December 2019, and running until the 7th of March 2020. Guests this year will also have the unique opportunity to visit the historical heritage sites before they close to the public until October 2020. They will also be able to attend musical and artistic performances by some of the most respected artists in the Arab, and international, world.
The AlUla Desert Polo Championship is sponsored by Amaala, Bentley and Richard Mille.
For more information, and to book your spot during the various festival activities, please visit the festival website here.


Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for July 23-Aug. 8 in 2021

Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori Tokyo 2020 Olympics CEO Toshiro Muto during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 31 March 2020

Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for July 23-Aug. 8 in 2021

  • Organizers wanted to have more room for the athletes to qualify, after many qualifying events were postponed

TOKYO: The Tokyo Olympics will open next year in the same time slot scheduled for this year’s Games.

Tokyo organizers said Monday the opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021 — almost exactly one year after the Games were due to start this year.
“The schedule for the Games is key to preparing for the Games,” Tokyo organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori said. “This will only accelerate our progress.”
Last week, the IOC and Japanese organizers postponed the Olympics until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s Games were scheduled to open on July 24 and close on Aug. 9. But the near exact one-year delay will see the rescheduled closing ceremony on Aug. 8.
There had been talk of switching the Olympics to spring, a move that would coincide with the blooming of Japan’s famous cherry blossoms. But it would also clash with European soccer and North American sports leagues.
Mori said a spring Olympics was considered but holding the Games later gives more space to complete the many qualifying events that have been postponed by the virus outbreak.
“We wanted to have more room for the athletes to qualify,” Mori said.
After holding out for weeks, local organizers and the IOC last week postponed the Tokyo Games under pressure from athletes, national Olympic bodies and sports federations. It’s the first postponement in Olympic history, though there were several cancellations during wartime. The Paralympics were rescheduled to Aug. 24-Sept. 5.
The new Olympic dates will conflict with the scheduled world championships in track and swimming, but those events are now expected to also be pushed back.
“The IOC has had close discussions with the relevant international federations,” Mori said. “I believe the IFs have accepted the Games being held in the summer.”
Both Mori and CEO Toshiro Muto have said the cost of rescheduling the Olympics will be “massive” — local reports estimate billions of dollars — with most of the expenses borne by Japanese taxpayers.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Spring Olympics was considered but holding the Games later gives more space to complete the many qualifying events.

• The new Olympic dates will conflict with the scheduled world championships in track and swimming, but those events are now expected to also be pushed back.

• The cost of rescheduling the Olympics will be ‘massive’ — local reports estimate billions of dollars — with most of the expenses borne by Japanese taxpayers.

Muto promised transparency in calculating the costs, and testing times deciding how they are divided up.
“Since it (the Olympics) were scheduled for this summer, all the venues had given up hosting any other events during this time, so how do we approach that?” Muto asked.
“In addition, there will need to be guarantees when we book the new dates, and there is a possibility this will incur rent payments. So there will be costs incurred and we will need to consider them one by one. I think that will be the tougher process.”
Katsuhiro Miyamoto, an emeritus professor of sports economics at Kansai University, puts the costs as high as $4 billion. That would cover the price of maintaining stadiums, refitting them, paying rentals, penalties and other expenses.
Japan is officially spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics. However, an audit bureau of the Japanese government says the costs are twice that much. All of the spending is public money except $5.6 billion from a privately funded operating budget.
The Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee is contributing $1.3 billion, according to organizing committee documents. The IOC’s contribution goes into the operating budget.
IOC President Thomas Bach has repeatedly called the Tokyo Olympics the best prepared in history. However, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso also termed them “cursed.” Aso competed in shooting in the 1976 Olympics, and was born in 1940.
The Olympics planned for 1940 in Tokyo were canceled because of World War II.
The run-up to the Olympics also saw IOC member Tsunekazu Takeda, who also headed the Japanese Olympic Committee, forced to resign last year amid a bribery scandal.