Having failed to find a host for the event since 2017, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Tuesday awarded the 2029 edition of the Asian Winter Games to Trojena – a proposed winter sports resort in north-west Saudi Arabia.
Part of the developing $500 billion Neom City project, the Trojena resort that will offer year-round outdoor skiing in the desert-bound Sarawat Mountains will be constructed by 2026. Temperatures in the region rarely drop below freezing but organizers say Asian Games athletes will enjoy a mix of natural and artificial snow. It will be the nation’s first outdoor ski resort.
The aggressive project will include construction of a man-made freshwater lake, a nature reserve and and complete renewable energy infrastructure. The resort will have the capacity to host 47 events at the Games.
Neom chief executive Nadhmi Al-Nasr said Trojena “will have a suitable infrastructure to create the winter atmosphere in the heart of the desert.”
The unlikely bid to be the first West Asian site for the snow and ice event ran unopposed and was awarded the Games by the OCA at its General Assembly in Cambodia.
Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal wrote on Twitter “With the unlimited support by the Saudi leadership & HRH Crown Prince to the sport sector we are proud to announce we have won the bid to host AWG TROJENA2029 as the first country in west Asia.”
Almost two years ago capital Riyadh was chosen to host the Asian Summer Games in 2034 with water events to be held at Neom.
With #TROJENA winning the #AsianWinterGames 2029 bid, the CEO of #NEOM offers his thanks to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince for their leadership and support.#TROJENA2029 pic.twitter.com/4fV8xaeA15
— TROJENA (@NEOMTROJENA) October 4, 2022
The two Asian Games are part of Saudi Arabia’s recent sports shopping-spree that includes the 2023 World Combat Games and the 2025 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. Last year Jeddah hosted the nation’s first ever Formula One Grand Prix event and later this month it will stage the LIV Golf Invitational, an event in the new Saudi Arabian financed golf tour.
Recent reports have suggested that Saudi Arabia is working on a 2030 FIFA World Cup bid jointly with Egypt and Greece.
In August Saudi Arabia’s Sports Minister and the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee (SOPC) President Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal Al Saud said that bringing the Olympic Games to his country is the “ultimate goal.” At the same time he denied that the growing sports portfolio is an attempt at ‘sportswashing’ the nation’s dismal human rights record.
The next available Olympic Games will be in 2036.