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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s sports minister on Sunday launched the Kingdom’s official campaign to help secure enough votes from members of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to host the 21st Asian Games in 2030.
Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, who is also chairman of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee (SAOC), formally submitted the country’s application bid to the governing body, nominating Riyadh to stage the event.
Officials are due to decide on which city will host the games (known as the Asiad) when they meet for their 39th OCA General Assembly in Muscat, Oman on Dec. 16. The other city still in contention is the Qatari capital Doha.
The prince said: “Hosting the 2030 Asian Games is a great honor and an opportunity to inspire a new generation of athletes across the Asian continent and reach the largest audience in the Kingdom’s sports hosting history.
“We are excited (at the chance) to host the first-ever Asian Games (in Saudi Arabia), in light of the support of the government of King Salman and the crown prince.”
He added that the Kingdom had recently hosted a number of high-profile international sporting events and that securing the Asiad would provide a golden opportunity to advance long-term sports, societal, and cultural changes for the nation.
The minister had been speaking at a ceremony also attended by Princess Reema bint Bandar, who is a member of the board of directors of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Kingdom’s ambassador to the US, and other Saudi sports officials and athletes.
If Riyadh were to win its hosting bid, Prince Abdul Aziz said: “We promise to organize a successful tournament by all standards, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”
Princess Reema said that Riyadh 2030 would be a vibrant and diverse event in a unique atmosphere, using pre-existing sporting venues along with purpose-built facilities, pointing out that it would “create a platform to highlight the power of the Olympic Games throughout the yellow continent (Asia), and consolidate its values.”
She added: “By working with the OCA, Riyadh 2030 would provide a legacy of diversity and participation across the nation, which would have a major impact in the coming decades.”
Prince Nawaf bin Faisal bin Fahad, honorary member of the IOC and former president of SAOC, said that raising the level of female participation in sports was a key goal of the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan under its quality of life program.
He noted that the aim was to increase women’s involvement in sporting activities by 40 percent, in line with the Kingdom’s efforts to promote and support its elite athletes in becoming top medal winners in international competitions.
Meanwhile, Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdul Aziz, vice president of the SAOC, said that if the Saudi capital were named to host the Asiad, the main stadium would be located in Qiddiya along with a water sports center and cricket ground.
“We are committed to supporting Olympic values and a shift toward more sustainable and socially responsible games,” he added.
Saudi runner Hadi Sawan, who won the first Saudi Olympic medal in 2000, said that the Kingdom’s dream was to host the 2030 Asian Games.
And Saudi equestrian, Dalma Malhas, who won the bronze medal at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, said that staging the sports festival at amazing and modern venues in Riyadh would provide a platform to meet the needs of the continent’s best athletes and allow them to shine.
The bid file submitted by Prince Abdul Aziz to the OCA included world-class venues and facilities connected to the latest environmentally friendly transportation systems.
It said the impact of the games would inspire the Asian Olympic movement throughout the continent by spreading sporting values and enhancing communication, not only in sport but socially and culturally too, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
To mark the Saudi campaign launch, the Riyadh 2030 hosting committee released its official social media accounts under the name RiyadhAG2030.
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