The deserts and mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for winter sports with Trojena, NEOM City being chosen as the host of the 9th Asian Winter Games 2029 during the 41st General Assembly of the Olympic Council of Asia on Tuesday, October 4.
Raja Randhir thanked the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia for their warm hospitality and for all the facilities provided. He said “We have made some very important decisions, and it is a pleasant surprise that Saudi Arabia will be the host of the next Asian Winter Games in 2029.”
It will be the first West Asian city to host the Asian Winter Games.
However the IOC is not happy.
“The IOC was not consulted about the OCA decision with regard to the Asian Winter Games and was not involved in the decision-making process,” an IOC spokesperson said. “As far as the IOC is concerned, sustainability is a key pillar of Olympic Agenda 2020+5.” The IOC’s Olympic Games' reform plan is aimed at reducing costs and the size of the Olympics to make them more attractive to potential host cities.
“For the Olympic Games, the IOC made it plain in Olympic Agenda 2020+5 that there is a clear priority for existing venues. If these do not exist, the use of temporary venues is encouraged,” the IOC spokesperson said.
“If neither of these works from a sustainability point of view, the respective events can even be held outside the Olympic host country. The IOC also requires organising committees to achieve climate-positive Olympic Games by 2030 at the latest.“
"For the Olympic Games, the IOC made it plain in Olympic Agenda 2020+5 that there is a clear priority for existing venues. If these do not exist, the use of temporary venues is encouraged," the IOC spokesperson said.
Trojena is part of Neom, a planned megacity and the brainchild of the crown prince at the centre of plans to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from petrodollars.
The resort, set to be built in the Sarawat mountains, is located 50km east of the Red Sea coast and is 10 degrees Celsius cooler on average than the rest of the region. Saudi Arabia says it will host an "all-year ski village".
While the area is one of the few locations in the desert kingdom that receives snow, it's 'cough' unclear as to how sustainable the development might be.
Saudi Minister of Sport and President of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, HRH Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal, who presented a comprehensive bid, signed the host city contract along with Acting OCA President Raja Randhir Singh after delegates at the General Assembly unanimously approved the Saudi proposal.
“This is a great victory for the Saudi nation and Gulf countries. It is due to the generous support offered to the Saudi sports sector that significantly contributes to the progress of sport and all other fields in the Kingdom for the purpose of delivering the objectives of the Saudi 2030 vision,” an elated Prince Abdulaziz noted.
“We thank the Olympic Council of Asia for granting us this opportunity. Trojena will be a year-round destination for winter sports and it is fully funded and backed by Government guarantees. It will highlight the enormous potential and great infrastructure of Saudi Arabia to host and organise international-level sport competitions and Games successfully,” added the Saudi Olympic chief.
Two young Saudi winter sport athletes – alpine skier Fayik Abdi and ice hockey player Sadeem Al Tuhami – who were part of the bid team, encapsulated the remarkable and wondrous nature of the bid with delegates from 44 Asian NOCs left enthralled by the presentation and prospect of an Asian Winter Games in hot Saudi Arabia.
“Growing up I never believed I would ski in my homeland,” said Fayik Abdi, the first Saudi athlete to participate at the Winter Olympics, Beijing 2022. “Now I’m looking forward to the Asian Winter Games at home.”
Nadhmi Al-Nasr, Chief Executive of NEOM, said: “Trojena will have a suitable infrastructure to create the winter atmosphere in the heart of the desert, to make this Winter Games an unprecedented global event.”
The key aspects of the 2029 Asian Winter Games at the iconic mountain destination of Trojena are:
- Two competition clusters. A snow cluster for sports including alpine skiing, snowboard, slalom; and an ice cluster for sports including ice hockey, figure skating, curling.
- 47 events: 28 snow events and 19 ice events
- Game legacy: Creating a winter sports hub open to all Asian NOCs with the Asian Games family having full access to Trojena in the run-up to the Games.
- A single Asian Games Village
- 14 luxury hotel encircling the sports venues· Powered 100 per cent with renewable energy
Prince Abdulaziz also provided updates on Riyadh’s hosting of the 7th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in the fourth quarter of 2025 and the Asian Games in 2034.
Regarding the 2034 Asian Games, HRH Prince Abdulaziz said they would use the World Combat Games from October 21-28, 2023 as well as AIMAG 7 as part of the preparations. The first Saudi Games will take place at the end of this month.