The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Wednesday that it was not consulted in the Olympic Council of Asia’s (OOC) decision to choose Saudi Arabia to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games.
The election of the 2029 Games at the COA general assembly, held on Tuesday, aroused surprise in the world of sports, since Arabia, a mostly desert state, is the scene of very sporadic snowfall and does not have infrastructure or tradition in winter sports.
It also implies that all or most of the facilities required for this multi-sport event would have to be built from scratch.
“The IOC was not consulted on the AOC’s decision regarding the Asian Winter Games and was not involved in the decision-making process,” an IOC spokesman said.
“As far as the IOC is concerned, sustainability is a key pillar of the Olympic Agenda 2020+5,” the official told Reuters, referring to its Olympic Games reform plan, which aims to reduce the costs and size of events to make them more attractive to potential future venues.
Riyadh plans to build a mountain resort in the $500 billion flagship NEOM project. The TROJENA complex is expected to be completed in 2026 and will offer outdoor skiing, an artificial freshwater lake and a nature reserve, according to the project’s website.
“For the Olympic Games, the IOC made it clear in the 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 spokesman said.
“If none of these options work from a sustainability point of view, the respective events may even be held outside the host country of the Games. The IOC also requires organizing committees to achieve a climate-positive Olympic Games no later than in 2030,” he said.
Paris will host the 2024 Summer Olympics, while the Italian town of Cortina D’Ampezzo will host the 2026 Winter Olympics. The 2028 Summer Olympics will be held in Los Angeles, while Brisbane, Australia will host the 2032 Olympics.
NEOM is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s most ambitious project under the Saudi kingdom’s Vision 2030 development plan to reduce dependence on oil and transform the economy, among other initiatives through the development of sport.
NEOM, a 26,500-square-kilometre high-tech development on the Red Sea, will include the zero-carbon city “The Line” as well as industrial and logistics zones