JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia was chosen on Tuesday to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at Trojena, a year-round winter sports complex being built in the northwest of the Kingdom as part of the futuristic NEOM megacity.
“The deserts and mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for winter sports,” the Olympic Council of Asia said after the Saudi bid was “unanimously approved” at its general assembly meeting in Phnom Penh.
Trojena, which is due to be completed in 2026, is in an area of NEOM where winter temperatures drop below zero and year-round temperatures are generally 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the region.
One of 10 regions within NEOM, it is about 50 km inland from the Gulf of Aqaba in an area that, like much of the rest of the Kingdom, receives very little rainfall. The site spans 60 square kilometers, at an elevation of between 1,500 and 2,600 meters.
The complex will have year-round skiing, chalets, mansions, ultra-luxury hotels and a five-meter-deep manmade lake filled with desalinated sea water.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said that Trojena “will redefine mountain tourism for the world by creating a place based on the principles of ecotourism, highlighting our efforts to preserve nature and enhance the community’s quality of life.”
Among those on the successful Saudi bid team for the Games was alpine skier Fayik Abdi. “I never believed I would ski in my homeland,” he said.
There will be 47 events at the Trojena Games — 28 on snow and 19 on ice — including competitions for skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey and figure skating.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, president of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said the success of the Saudi bid to host the Games was “a great victory for the Saudi nation and the people of the Gulf countries.”
He said: “The Saudi sports sector significantly contributes to … the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.”
The successful bid “also shed light on the enormous potential and the outstanding infrastructure of Saudi Arabia to host and organize international-level sports competitions and games successfully.”
Committee vice president Prince Fahd bin Jalawi said the Saudi leadership was “sparing no effort to push Saudi sports forward alongside the most advanced countries in the world.”
NEOM chief executive Nadhmi Al-Nasr said Trojena would have “suitable infrastructure to create the winter atmosphere in the heart of the desert, to make the Winter Games in Trojena an unprecedented global event.”