It is a choice that speaks volumes. The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) announced Tuesday that the Saudi city of Neom will host the 2029 edition of the Asian Winter Games. A decision taken “unanimously” during the General Assembly of the institution, organized in Phnom Penh. If project proponents have claimed that “temperatures drop below 0 degrees in winter and where temperatures throughout the year are generally 10 degrees below” in the region designated to host the event, it is monumental infrastructure that should host the event. Very quickly voices were raised to criticize this designation, including that of the French Ski Federation, in a joint press release with the National Association of Mayors of Mountain Resorts, Ski Areas of France, the French Ski School. “Athletes, elected officials and mountain tourism operators, we learned with amazement of the project to organize the 2029 Asian Winter Games in Saudi Arabia, in a place naturally poor in rainfall and water, where today there is no station or ski slope , is stated in this press release. We can only denounce this aberrant project and totally contrary to what is desirable for the planet. In any case, this is not the path we are plotting for French resorts and for French skiing. “
The deserts and mountains of #Saudi Arabia it will soon be a playground for winter sports!#NEOMTrojena city was unanimously chosen to host 2029 #Asian Winter Games from delegates to # 41th General Assembly. #Announcement @saudiolimpico @NEOMTROJENA pic.twitter.com/sH154g2LUI
– Asian Olympic Council (@AsianGamesOCA) October 4, 2022
Guégan: “Beyond madness and heresy”
But, in the eyes of sports geopolitics specialist Jean-Baptiste Guégan, the choice of Saudi Arabia for such an event was “predictable” even if the latter confided in an interview with the regional newspaper Ouest-France that he thought “that it would be coming later “and directly related to the Olympic Winter Games.” The fact that they get them, in a context in which they have already organized the Asian Summer Games in 2034, still raises questions about the award process, “he added. Initially indicating the fact that the former president of the OCA was charged with corruption, Jean-Baptiste Guégan assures us that “it is beyond madness and heresy but also represents what the Gulf monarchies are willing to do to exist on the map and prepare for the post-oil era “. An organization of the Asian Winter Games which will thus continue to host the Dakar but also a Formula 1 Grand Prix, while the country is ready to embark on the race to organize the World 2030 together with… Egypt and Greece. A project in which Jean-Baptiste Guégan hardly believes. “I think he has no chance because there are two authoritarian regimes in the lot, he adds. At some point, FIFA will no longer have only NGOs behind it. A designation that, in short, could set a school or a precedent.