LONDON: Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdul Aziz has told athletes that all will be welcome in Saudi Arabia for the 2034 Asian Games, no matter where they come from.
Riyadh was awarded one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events on Wednesday after a meeting of the Olympic Council of Asia in the Omani capital of Muscat.
Even athletes hailing from countries which do not enjoy diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia can look forward to participating in the continental sports meet along with competitors from every corner of Asia.
“We are talking about sports and sports people are welcome to come to Saudi Arabia in any event,” Prince Fahd said. “We already hosted a lot of international events and there were participants from countries with which we don’t have any diplomatic relations with.”
The prince stressed that Saudi Arabia is closely aligned with the principles behind the modern Olympic movement. “Since it started in 1896, it has talked about three main things: respect, excellence and friendship and that is what happened in the almost 126 years so far,” add the prince who was also the director general of the Asian Games bid.
The Asian Games takes place every four years and is one of the largest tournaments in the world. The 2018 edition, held in Indonesia, involved over 11,000 athletes from 45 nations participating in 465 events in 40 sports. The 2022 event will take place in the Chinese city of Hangzhou before moving to Nagoya in Japan and then to Doha in 2030.
Securing the tournament in 2034, is a major coup for Saudi Arabia, especially as sport is one of the main pillars behind the country’s Vision 2030, a blueprint to promote a vibrant society with a diverse and thriving economy.
Not only can the Asian Games inspire the nation in sporting terms but it provides benefits in other fields too.
“We are looking at youth and to our people,” added Prince Fahd. “Hosting this kind of event means the creation of new jobs, a lot of tourism and economic impact.”
Saudi Arabia is also hoping for good news in its bid to host football’s 2027 Asian Cup and on Monday presented the bid book to the Asian Football Confederation at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
“Today marks an important step in our ambitions towards hosting the AFC Asian Cup for the first time ever in 2027,” General Secretary of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation Ibrahim Al-Kassim said.
“Under the directive of our committed government, the support of our large private sector and our millions of football fans, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is behind this important bid. I am very proud of all the efforts of our team ... and I am truly grateful for all the support we have received thus far from across Asia.”
Saudi Arabia is competing with India, Iran, Qatar and Uzbekistan for the Asian Cup and the decision will be made in 2021.