KUWAIT (Reuters) – Bitter neighbours Qatar and Saudi Arabia will battle for the hosting rights for the 2030 Asian Games after the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) announced receiving bids from Doha and Riyadh on Thursday.
Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed political, trade and transport ties with Qatar in mid-2017, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and cozying up to regional foe Iran.
Doha denies the charges and says the embargo by its fellow Gulf Arabs aims to undermine its sovereignty.
Qatari capital Doha hosted the 2006 Games but Saudi Arabia has never organised an OCA multi-sport event.
“The OCA is delighted to receive two strong bids for our Asian Games in 2030,” the governing body’s president, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, said in a statement.
“It shows the trust and confidence in the Olympic Movement in Asia and further enhances our reputation of hosting world-class sporting events on a major scale.”
OCA had invited bids for the 2030 Games from its 45 members by Wednesday.
The host city will be decided at the OCA General Assembly meeting in November this year.
“With these two bids for the 2030 Asian Games we now have stability and continuity in our sports movement for the next decade,” Sheikh Ahmad said.
“It puts us in an envious position in terms of our sports calendar and highlights again that Asia is a major partner in the global Olympic movement.”
Chinese city Hangzhou hosts the next Games in 2022, with the 2026 edition scheduled to take place in Aichi-Nagoya, Japan.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi, editing by David Goodman and Pritha Sarkar