After a competitive bidding process, the 2029 Asian Winter Games will be held in Saudi Arabia, where the country's future megacity in the desert will play host to international skiing and snowboarding competitions. The Olympic Council of Asia "unanimously approved" the Saudi candidacy for the 47-event games, marking the kingdom's most ambitious incursion into sports to date (OCA).
Trojena, a part of the Neom project in the Arab state, will host the games because, as stated on the project's website, "winter temperatures plunge below zero Celsius and year-round temperatures are normally ten degrees lower than the rest of the region."
"The deserts and mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for winter sports," the OCA declared in a statement. According to the OCA, there will be 47 events at the Asian Winter Games, including 28 snow events and 10 ice events.
To diversify the Saudi economy away from oil, Neom is the crown prince's most ambitious economic project under the Kingdom's Vision 2030 strategy.
Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's minister of sports, said on Twitter that the kingdom has been awarded the right to host the TROJENA2029 Asian Winter Games because of "the inexhaustible support of the Saudi government and HRH Crown Prince to the sports industry."
The Saudi government has been accused of "sportswashing" for utilizing high-profile events to improve the country's worldwide image and deflect criticism of its human rights record. It's the driving force behind the innovative LIV Golf Tour and has hosted world-title boxing bouts and a Formula One Grand Prix. In addition, Saudi Arabia is collaborating with Egypt and Greece to submit a joint bid for the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
The website for the Trojena development claims that after it is finished in 2026, it will be home to a natural reserve, an artificial freshwater lake, and opportunities for outdoor skiing. The Line, an ambitious development by Bin Salman within Neom, will consist of two mirror-encased towers stretching across 170 kilometers of mountain and desert.