Snow joke: Saudi Arabia submits bid to host 2029 Asian Winter Games at NEOM

Snow joke: Saudi Arabia submits bid to host 2029 Asian Winter Games at NEOM
Saudi Arabia has been accused of investing in sports to gloss over its poor human rights record
2 min read
04 August, 2022
The Asian Winter Games have so far only been held in Central and East Asian countries [Getty]

Saudi Arabia has placed a bid to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at the tourism resort of Trojena in its NEOM megacity, currently under construction.

The Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee announced on Wednesday that it had submitted a letter of interest to the Olympic Council of Asia to host the tenth edition of the Games.

If successful, Saudi Arabia would be the first country in the Middle East to host the Games, which first took place in Japan in 1986.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) announced plans for the Trojena mountain tourism resort in March of this year.

It is part of his NEOM megacity brainchild in northwestern Saudi Arabia, which has a budget of US$500 billion.

The area's mountain ranges have temperatures cooler than the national average, and even boast sub-zero temperatures during the winter.

Trojena, set for completion in 2026, will include an "all-year ski village", according to NEOM.

Most of NEOM is meant to be completed by 2025, in line with Saudi Vision 2030 - but critics say the ambitious plans, including those for vertical city The Line, could take decades to complete.

As part of Vision 2030, the Gulf kingdom is trying to boost tourism and increase its investments in fields including sports and technology.

The country has been accused of using sports to improve its image and distract from the human rights abuses it commits at home and abroad.

Human rights groups have protested the hosting of international sporting events in the country.