Saudi Riyadh
An aerial view of the Saudi capital Riyadh Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The bidding for the 21st Asian Games in 2030 will be a two-horse race between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) on Monday announced that only these two nations are in the fray for hosting the continental multi-discipline sporting event in 10 years’ time.

The OCA had set an October 4 deadline for bidding nations to officially submit their bids, and the governing body on Monday related that only Doha and Riyadh had offered to host the 21st edition of the Asian Games.

A general view shows the corniche in Doha. Image Credit: AFP

As per the protocol in place, the 10-member OCA Evaluation Committee, chaired by Wei Jizhong will visit the two candidate cities in the third week of October to assess the bids. The host city for the 21st Asian Games 2030 will be decided at the 39th OCA General Assembly that is scheduled to be held in Muscat, Oman, on December 16, 2020.

Doha was among the first to launch its bid to host the 2030 edition after the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) submitted its bid documents and letters of support from the Government of Qatar to the OCA on April 23.

On the same day, the OCA confirmed that the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee (SAOC) too had submitted the bid documents and the letters of support from the Government of Saudi Arabia to host the Games in Riyadh.

Earlier, a handful of other cities had also shown their interest in hosting the Games, but none of them submitted its documents by the set deadline. Among these were the twin cities of Tashkent and Samarkand in Uzbekistan, Taipei in Chinese Taipei, Daejeon in South Korea, Philippines and India.

The 19th Asian Games will be held in Hangzhou, China from September 1025, 2022, while the 20th Asian Games will be held in Aichi-Nagoya, Japan in 2026.

Riyadh launched the slogan and logo for its 2030 Asian Games bid with claims that the event would be a “driving force in the transformation of the city and Saudi society”.

On Sunday, Doha had described their bid as a “national priority” and the Saudis followed suit a day later using the exact same wording.

Riyadh has opted for the slogan “Transforming the Future”, with its logo a map of the Kingdom with sports pictograms included inside.

“The bid promises a new model for the Asian Games in a new era for the Kingdom – ultra-modern yet steeped in history, ambitious but realistic, visually stunning but environmentally-conscious,” a statement said following a video launch on YouTube.

“It would deliver a vibrant, world-class Games experience, whilst also being a driving force in the transformation of the city and Saudi society,” the statement added.

Doha hosted the Games in 2006, but Saudi Arabia has never hosted the Asian Games before. However, sport is a key part of Saudi Arabia’s vision of opening up to the world. A number of major sporting events have already been hosted there and it is likely the biggest prizes of the Olympics and FIFA World Cup are on the country’s radar in the future.

“Hosting the 2030 Asian Games would be an enormous honour and an opportunity to inspire a new generation of athletes throughout Asia, unifying the region in a celebration of sport,” said Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of Riyadh 2030 and President of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.