Last weekend, IOC President Thomas Bach was in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to visit the National Olympic and Paralympic Committee and see for himself the impressive development of sport in the Kingdom. As a guest at the Saudi National Games, the President watched a number of sports and visited the fan zone. The second edition of the Games saw more than 8,000 participants from across the country competing in 53 sports, including Paralympic sports, and a number of esports competitions. The Games, which also saw record participation by female athletes (28 per cent of the total), are part of the rapid growth of the sports sector, as outlined in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategy.
Speaking at the NOC headquarters, President Bach told the organizers: “With increased engagement at all levels, and in particular a rise in the level of female participation, the goals of the sports strategy in many ways mirror the aims of our Olympic Agenda reform programme.”
Later, in a meeting with the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, the two leaders discussed the forthcoming Olympic Games Paris 2024. They also held extensive discussions on the IOC’s initiative to create Olympic Esports Games. The current geopolitical situation and its impact on world sport were also discussed. In this respect, the Crown Prince fully supported the IOC’s position on the unifying power of sport and the autonomy of the IOC, which is essential for it to fulfil its peace-building mission. The Crown Prince also emphasized the support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the recent United Nations Truce Resolution “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal”, for which the IOC President thanked him warmly. Full news release here. See also news on the website of the National Olympic and Paralympic Committee of Saudi Arabia