Some of the world’s top skiers are not happy with a major tournament in a desert nation.
Citing climate change and sustainability concerns, World Cup skiers decried the choice of Saudi Arabia as the host of the 2029 Asian Winter Games, which feature teams from countries in the Olympic Council of Asia.
The event is to be held at Trojena, a planned city and resort in the mountainous region near the Gulf of Aqaba coast. Trojena is part of Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion futuristic NEOM project.
- “We can only denounce this aberrant project, which is totally opposite to what is desirable for the planet,” said the French ski federation.
- “We see that the world is on fire, it’s really hot summers, it’s going to go bad in the end if you don’t do anything,” said Norwegian two-time Olympic medalist Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.
- “I cannot find the right and common sense in building up something where the snow doesn’t come,” said 2018 Olympic downhill champion Sofia Goggia.
Next, the World?
The Asian Winter Games may merely be a warmup act for Saudi Arabia.
The country is reportedly leading a joint bid for the 2030 World Cup with Egypt and Greece.
The move would likely force the tournament to follow the lead of next month’s World Cup in Qatar and take place near the end of the year. Temperatures in the Saudi capital of Riyadh regularly top 100 degrees from May to September.
Saudi Arabia also wants to host the Olympics, calling it the “ultimate goal” of its sports strategy.