Rival capitals Doha and Riyadh are set to compete to host the Asian Games in 2030, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) announced Thursday.
Applications and government support documents were received from Qatar and Saudi Arabia before the Wednesday deadline qualifying the cities as the only two contenders to host the largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games, with over 10,000 athletes competing from across Asia.
The winning city will be declared on November 29, 2020 amid the Asian Beach Games in Sanya, China.
OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah said in a statement “The OCA is delighted to receive two strong bids for our Asian Games in 2030.
“It shows the trust and confidence in the Olympic Movement in Asia and further enhances our reputation of hosting world-class sporting events on a major scale.”
Doha staged the Games once in 2006, Saudi Arabia has never hosted the event.
Qatar is currently preparing to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup but Doha twice had its Olympic Games bid rejected due to its harsh summertime climate.
Diplomatic relations between the two nations broke down in 2017 after Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed a blockade on Qatar after it was claimed the latter maintained too close ties with Riyadh’s regional rivals and terror groups. Cross-border tensions have yet to cool.
The OCA sees the two interested bids as stabilizing for its organization amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down sports globally – including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that are now rescheduled for 2021.
“With these two bids for the 2030 Asian Games we now have stability and continuity in our sports movement for the next decade,” Sheikh Ahmad said.
“This will allow our National Olympic Committees, our administrators and, above all, our athletes to make solid plans for the future in the short term, medium term and long term.
“It puts us in an envious position in terms of our sports calendar and highlights again that Asia is a major partner in the global Olympic movement.”
The next Asian Games are scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, China in 2022 and the 2026 edition will be staged in Aichi-Nagoya, Japan.