Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the Asian Games in 2030 scored passing grades Tuesday upon the completion of the Riyadh 2030 site inspection by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
The OCA team, chaired by Kazakhstan’s Andrey Kryukov, arrived in Riyadh November 7 for a three-day visit to examine plans and venues proposed for the Games. The OCA’s job in Riyadh, according to Kryukov, was to analyze the capability and readiness of the bid.
“Saudi Arabia has showed their true readiness today and to host the Games in 2030,” Kryukov said at the conclusion of the meetings.
“The committee is very happy with what it saw and believe that Riyadh has a good potential to host a successful Games in 2030.”
Saudi Arabia is competing directly with bordering Qatar and its capital Doha for the right to host the second largest international multi-sport event in the world next to the Olympic Games. The two nations are geopolitical rivals in the region, and strained diplomatic relations have added to the intensity of race that is set to be decided December 16 at a meeting in Muscat, Oman.
Saudi Arabia has never hosted the Games but Doha staged the event in 2006.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-faisal who serves as the Minister of Sport and President of the Saudi Olympic Committee underlined the proposed Games as “transformational” for the Kingdom, and with “unwavering public support” the event would “inspire a new generation of fans.”
“We are opening up Saudi Arabia to the world,” he said.
Director General of the bid committee, Prince Fahad bin Jalawi Al Saud promised to “take the Asian Games to the next level” while escalating the event as a national priority.
“We mean it,” he emphasized when asked to elaborate by GamesBids.com.
“It is a national priority. The Games will support Vison 2030 [national development project].”
“Sport is one of the main pillars of the vision and these Games will do a lot to achieve our goals. We’re sure that our new direction will be fully aligned and fully prepared for 2030.
Kyrukov told GamesBids.com that the OCA is behind this strategy, he said “what we see here; it’s very important that we always support these ideas and we will always propose these ideas to bid committees and to the countries which like to host the Games in the future – that your Games is integrated, your plan and your project is integrated in the national strategy.”
Prince Fahd said Monday “we had an excellent day with the OCA’s 2030 Evaluation Committee today and it was great to take the members to see, first-hand, our transformative plans for Riyadh 2030.”
“Our sustainable, financially responsible and interconnected hosting plan blends Riyadh’s rich history and cultural heritage with modern and state-of-the-art stadiums and sports venues.”
Riyadh will use only existing or temporary facilities, or those already planned to exist in 2030 that will be constructed in the next 10 years.
“There will be no new investment just for the Games,” Prince Abdulaziz said.
“We want to offer the best. Our venues will be state of the art when we need them the most, not now but in 2030.”
He added “there is no point of having great venues with no fans.”
“We are chasing a new generation of fans who will rush to fill the stands.”
Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been under the microscope for human right violations, but Riyadh bid officials claim there are efforts to get more women involved in sport. Prince Abdulaziz said women are actively involved in 80 percent of national sport federations and “100 percent soon.”
Last month Dalma Malhas, Saudi Arabia’s first-ever female Olympic medal winner, was named chair of the Riyadh 2030 Athletes’ Commission.
“An increasing number of women and girls are participating in sport throughout Asia and Saudi Arabia,” the show-jumping bronze medalist at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympics said.
“The 2030 Asian Games will be a platform to inspire new audiences and the Athletes’ Commission will play a key role in achieving this vision.”
Kryukov commented that the OCA observed “the active participation of women in the bid committee at all levels.”
Prince Abdulaziz also assured that Saudi Arabia will “guarantee press freedoms in line with major sporting events.”
The 2018 Asian Games were staged in Jakarta-Palembang, Indonesia and the next event will be held in Hangzhou, China in 2022. Japan will host Aichi-Nagoya 2026.