JEDDAH: Olympics chiefs from the Kingdom arrived in Japan on Tuesday to support the Saudi team ahead of the start of the Tokyo 2020 games.
Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, president of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, was joined in Tokyo by committee members Yasser Al-Mashal and Adwaa Al-Arifi, and Ibrahim Al-Qassim, secretary-general of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation.
Saudi Arabia has sent its largest ever Olympic team to Tokyo, with 11 individual qualifiers and the U-23 football team.
Saudi athletes will take part in nine events, surpassing the record of six at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
The Olympics opening ceremony is on Friday at 8 p.m. in Tokyo, 2 p.m. in Saudi Arabia, but the baseball, softball and football competitions begin on Wednesday.
The athletics events begin on Friday, July 30, with 10 days of action culminating with the men’s marathon, which ends on the final day in Tokyo, Sunday, Aug. 8.
The Saudi U-23 footballers will be the first of the Kingdom’s representatives in action when they take on Ivory Coast at Yokohama International Stadium on
The Olympics are a showcase for young stars to attract the attention of scouts from the world’s top clubs.
The breakout star at London 2012, for example, was Omar Abdulrahman of the UAE.
In Tokyo, all Saudi eyes will be on the 21-year-old Al-Hilal striker Abdullah Al-Hamdan.
“The Olympics are not a high priority when compared to the U-17 or U-20 World Cups,” one leading scout told Arab News. “But it is still one attended by plenty of scouts, and any player who shows his potential will get noticed.”