Qatar is hosting the World Cup this November, but its much larger neighbor would like to take on the only global sporting event of comparable size.
Saudi Arabia wants to host the Olympics, calling it the “ultimate goal” of its sports strategy.
The country has leaned into sports as part of its efforts to diversify its economy beyond oil, though some have charged that the efforts are an attempt to “sportswash” Saudi Arabia’s checkered human rights record.
Beijing spent a reported $8.8 billion on the 2022 Winter Olympics. Germany has also shown interest in hosting the Games.
Saudi Arabia has attracted attention as the backer of LIV Golf, which has lured golfers with paychecks often in excess of $100 million, but its sports and gaming portfolio has become quite extensive.
- The country’s Public Investment Fund owns a controlling stake in Premier League team Newcastle United.
- Saudi Arabia hosted its first Formula 1 Grand Prix last year.
- The country is hosting next year’s World Combat Games, plus the 2034 Asian Games, which Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said could be a precursor to the Olympics.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia became the first nation to approve Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The PIF holds a $2.9 billion stake in Activision Blizzard.
The fund also holds massive stakes in video game giants Nintendo, Electronic Arts, and Take-Two Interactive.