IOC not in on Saudi plans for $500bn desert AWG

The Olympic Council of Asia chose Saudi Arabia to host the Asian Winter Games in 2029, according to the International Olympic Committee, which claims that it was not consulted before that choice was sealed.

The OCA general assembly’s decision to host the 2029 Games in Saudi Arabia, a mostly desert country with infrequent snowfall and no infrastructure or history for winter sports, caused controversy in the sports world. That implies that either some or every venue required for this multisport competition would need to be built from scratch.

“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.

The official referred to the IOC’s Olympic Games reform plan, Olympic Agenda 2020+5, which aims to reduce costs and the size of the Olympics to make them more appealing to potential future host cities, and said, “As far as the IOC is concerned, sustainability is a key pillar of Olympic Agenda 2020+5”

The $500 billion flagship Neom project of the Gulf Arab state of Saudi Arabia includes ambitions to construct a mountain resort. According to the project website, the Trojena development will feature outdoor skiing, a man-made freshwater lake, and a natural reserve when it is finished in 2026.

“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.“

The summer Olympics will be held in Paris in 2024, while the winter Olympics will be held in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy, in 2026. While Brisbane, Australia will play home to the 2032 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles will host the 2028 Summer Games.

Under the Saudi Arabian kingdom’s Vision 2030 growth strategy to lessen dependency on oil and improve the economy, notably by growing sports, Neom is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s most ambitious project. Neom, a high-tech development on the Red Sea that spans 26,500 square kilometres (10,230 square miles), will contain “The Line,” a zero-carbon city, as well as industrial and logistical sectors.

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