Doha, Riyadh to stage sporting extravaganzas


Asian Games 2030 and 2034 in Doha and Riyadh Image: SPA & AFC

Doha (Qatar) was on Wednesday elected as host of the 2030 Asian Games while Riyadh has been awarded the 2034 sporting showpiece edition as the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) reached a compromise agreement between the fierce political rivals of Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Doha beat Riyadh in a vote of 45 National Olympic Committees in Muscat, Oman. Riyadh landed the hosting rights to the 22nd Asian Games in 2034. The National Olympic Committees participated remotely due to COVID-19 still continuing with its onslaught the world over.

Twenty-seven votes went to Doha, 10 to Riyadh and eight were abstentions, as per an official count.

“I can now announce… that the City who had the highest vote and will host 2030 is Doha. The second hosting City for 2034 is Riyadh,” stated the OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.

“I will be glad to have two games in West Asia, to be honest,” added Sheikh Ahmad.

The Olympic Council of Asia is a governing body of sports in Asia, currently with 45-member National Olympic Committees. A National Olympic Committee is a national constituent of the worldwide Olympic movement. Subject to the controls of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), National Olympic Committees are responsible for organizing their people’s participation in the Olympic Games.

The contest between the two for the sporting extravaganza was established in April as the OCA announced that Doha and Riyadh would contest the hosting rights for the 2030 Asian Games.

Doha staged the 15th Asian Games in December 2006 but Saudi Arabia has never staged an OCA multisport event and this will be their maiden one.

The race for the 2030 Games took another twist on Tuesday as the OCA President, HE Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, said he would seek to find a compromise at Wednesday’s general assembly meeting between what he described as two “great” candidate cities.

Prior to these sporting spectacles, the 19th Asian Games will take place in Hangzhou, China in 2022 and the 20th Asian Games will be hosted by Aichi-Nagoya, Japan, in 2026. The most recent chapter of the Games was held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia, in 2018.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are also crossing swords over another hosting rights contest for a major sporting event in Asia. The two nations have thrown their hats into the ring along with India, Iran and Uzbekistan for football’s 2027 Asian Cup, with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) expected to make a decision on the host nation next year.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is one of the six confederations within FIFA and is the governing body of association football in Asia and Australia.

The above decision means Qatar will play host to the multisport event eight years after it organizes the 2022 FIFA World Cup™.

Ahead of the vote, the OCA President said he was seeking a “win-win” situation for Doha and Riyadh.

“Our goal is simple. We want to see more Asian athletes in the future, on future Olympic podiums. We want that to be part of your national sports history, not just ours. And we want to support you in the efforts to get there,” affirmed Qatar Olympic Committee Chief Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani ahead of the vote.

Qatar is also participating in the bidding process for the 2032 Summer Olympics.

Tweeted Qatar’s ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, “We are happy with our win to host the 2030 Asian Games. #Doha2030… embodies Qatar’s sports mission as a means to enhance communication as well as human and cultural understanding.”

The Doha bid team claimed that 90 percent of the infrastructure for the 2030 games was already in place.

The President of Saudi’s Olympic Committee, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud averred, “When we say the games are a national priority, we mean it. It has unwavering political and public support. Sport has changed social life in the kingdom – especially for women.”

Prince Abdulaziz pointed to Saudi’s hosting of major boxing clashes and planning for next year’s Formula 1 as proof of the kingdom’s readiness for the Asian Games.

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