In a last-minute attempt to avoid a contentious vote that could alienate a key partner nation, Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah will try to broker an Asian Games hosting deal with Doha and Riyadh.
Sheikh Ahmad said Tuesday that he will try to avoid the vote scheduled online among 45 member national Olympic Committees by proposing a deal that would have one city accept an offer to host the 2034 edition of the Games while conceding a 2030 victory to its bid opponent.
The two rivals, capitals of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are bidding to host the 2030 Asian Games with the vote scheduled for Wednesday at the OCA General Assembly in Muscat, Oman. Both bids have elevated their projects to national priorities that are tightly aligned with long-term development goals.
The two nations are also embroiled in a bitter three-year-old diplomatic dispute that has Saudi Arabia and its allies maintaining a trade and travel embargo on Qatar, accusing the tiny nation of harboring terrorism. Qatar has rejected these claims.
“I believe in the OCA that we always show solidarity and unity, and for this reason I will try to find a solution,” Sheikh Ahmad told his Executive Board.
“I have visited both cities and they are ready to host the Asian Games in 2030. They have great financial support, great sports infrastructure and great support from all levels of government.
“I will talk to them both tonight and try to find a win-win situation.”
Sheikh Ahmad won the support of his Executive Board to negotiate a possible deal with the two bids.
Chair of the OCA Advisory Committee, Ng Ser Miang said “we have received the report of the OCA Evaluation Committee and it is clear we have two wonderful bids from two excellent cities.”
“I fully support [Sheikh Ahmad] on this.
The possible deal is being modeled on the Olympic Games double-allocation tripartite agreement among Paris, Los Angeles and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2017. The two well-qualified cities were involved in a head-to-head battle, and the IOC had no interest in naming a loser in the race. A deal that saw Los Angeles concede the 2024 Olympics to Paris in exchange for the automatic awarding of the 2028 Games to the American cities was struck. LA also received some financial concessions as part of the arrangement.
“In this case, all were winners and there were no losers,” Ng said.
OCA Evaluation Committee Chair Andrey Kryukov had already reported to the Executive Board on the findings of his site evaluations held in November and underlined that both cities had “every opportunity and high potential” to host 2030 Games and described their legacy plans as “excellent”.
Doha’s plans will leverage mostly existing facilities build for the 2006 Asian Games and the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup. The bid claims that due to the no-build project, an organizing committee can instead focus on building intangible legacies for all of Asia beginning next year.
Riyadh’s project involves some new planned construction but claims these venues will be state-of-the-art when needed – in 2030.
The level of readiness and experience suggests that it would be more appropriate for Doha to host in 2030 with Riyadh following in 2034 – but any arrangement is possible.
If Sheikh Ahmad is unable to arrange a deal with the two hopefuls, the vote will move forward as planned Wednesday.