Saudi Arabia has been chosen to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games in the mountains near the futuristic $500 billion Neom city project.
The Saudi bid was the only candidate for the continent’s Winter Games, which have not been held since 2017 due to the Olympic Council of Asia struggling to find hosts.
The bid focuses on Troy, which is slated to be a year-round ski resort by 2026 and the first outdoor ski resort in the Gulf, and the OCA confirmed Tuesday that it has been selected as the host.
“The deserts and mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for winter sports!” the OCA said in a statement announcing its decision.
Saudi Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said the kingdom’s winter sports project “challenges perception” in presenting the plan to OCA members.
“Trojana is the future of life in the mountains,” said the minister about an area described as an area of about 60 square kilometers at heights ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters.
The Neom mega-project is funded by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund. However, construction is currently behind schedule and parts of the plan have been criticized as unrealistic.
Saudi Arabia will also host the 2034 Asian Games in Riyadh as part of aggressive moves to build a sports hosting portfolio and help diversify the economy away from reliance on oil.
A campaign to host the 2030 soccer World Cup is also expected with an unprecedented bid for three continents including Egypt and Greece.