(ATR) The Olympic Council of Asia awards two editions of the Asian Games in one vote at its general assembly in Muscat, Oman.
Doha will host the 2030 Asiad, Riyadh will host the 2034 edition.
OCA President Sheikh Ahmad reveals Doha as the top choice for 2030.
Originally both cities were campaigning for the 2030 games to be chosen by vote of the assembly. But in a meeting between the two competitors on the eve of the assembly Dec. 16, the cities agreed to awarding the two editions at once.
OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah arranged the meeting to propose that one vote be held with the winner receiving 2030 and that second would host 2034.
The OCA President says in a statement the last minute change was a move of “friendship, solidarity and unity” meant to produce a “win-win” situation.
The proposed change was put to a vote of the assembly after both Doha and Riyadh had made their presentations. It was adopted unanimously by the 45 voting NOCs attending.
“I believe you are making history, and I will be proud to have two Asian Games in West Asia,” Sheikh Ahmad said. “Thank you Asia for your solidarity and coordination.”
The two capital cities, just 600km apart, represent two nations at odds with one another on matters of international politics. Trade and travel between the neighboring countries has been cut for two years now. The political differences were not mentioned in either presentation.
The actual vote ranking the two wasn’t close. Doha polled 27 votes with 10 for Riyadh. There were eight abstentions.
Voting for the Asian Games hosts at the OCA Assembly in Oman.
The Doha proposal built itself on the legacy and experience of hosting the 2006 Asian Games and the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
“This is a very proud and special moment for the whole of Qatar and the West Asian region. Hosting the 2030 Asian Games has been a national priority for our country and so we are humbled and greatly honored to have been awarded this prestigious event," Doha 2030 Chairman and Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) President HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al-Thani said.
"We can assure the whole OCA family that we do not take this responsibility for granted, and we will work tirelessly to deliver an Asian Games where ‘We All Belong’.
“We are also delighted that our West Asian neighbors, Saudi Arabia, have been given the opportunity to host the 2034 Asian Games and we wish them and the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee all the best."
For Riyadh, the decision gives the Kingdom a 14 year window to prepare for what will be the largest sports event to be held in Saudi Arabia. The bid is aligned with the Saudi government Vision 2030 plan to improve the quality of life, including a grassroots Sport for All program.
“Riyadh and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are overwhelmed with joy to have been awarded the 2034 Asian Games today. We applaud this dual award decision by the OCA and the NOCs of Asia. It is the best outcome for the OCA and the two great bid cities who campaigned competitively and in the spirit of great sportsmanship," HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Alfaisal, President of Riyadh 2034 and President of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, said.
"Most of all, today’s historic decision is great news for Asian sport and our athletes - who will be able to train and prepare for 2030 and 2034 knowing they are in great hands with two amazing host cities."
The one day meeting at the JW Marriott Hotel was a hybrid assembly with about half the delegates gathered in person and the rest scattered across Asia connected virtually to the meeting.
Sheikh Ahmad indicated the OCA will likely continue the practice of virtual meetings as one of the permanent effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
IOC President Thomas Bach, appearing virtually for the second day at a meeting of a continental association, noted the impact of the virus on the Olympic Movement and life in general.
“Everything has changed,” said Bach. He delivered a similar message Dec. 15 to the annual assembly of Panam Sports, the association for the 41 NOCs of the Americas.
In both speeches he hailed the Tokyo Olympics in the year ahead as the “light at the end of a long dark tunnel”.
Reported by Ed Hula.
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