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Doha, Riyadh to bid for hosting 2030 Asian Games

New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) The right to host the 2030 Asian Games will come down to a bidding war between bitter neighbours Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said in a statement on Thursday.

“Doha, capital of Qatar, and Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia, submitted official bids to host the 21st Asian Games before the OCA’s April 22 deadline,” said the OCA in its statement.

“The bid document from the National Olympic Committee of each country was accompanied by letters of support from the city and respective governments.”

“The OCA is delighted to receive two strong bids for our Asian Games in 2030,” said Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, OCA President.

“It shows the trust and confidence in the Olympic Movement in Asia and further enhances our reputation of hosting world-class sporting events on a major scale.

“With these two bids for the 2030 Asian Games we now have stability and continuity in our sports movement for the next decade.”

Both countries have on numerous occassions been accused of human rights violations. Qatar in particular has been accused of providing migrant workers who helped build stadiums for the upcoming 2022 Fifa World Cup in the country with unliveable conditions.

Amnesty International, a non-governmental organisation focused on human rights, have called for the OCA to ensure the Asian Games do not become a “sportswashing” vehicle for these countries.

“All bids to host the 2030 Asian Games should be fully assessed using rigorous human rights criteria to identify potential risks — including hazards that may face migrant workers or possible threats to freedom of expression or association for visiting fans,” Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of Economic and Social Justice, is quoted as saying by Inside the Games.

“There are numerous important issues, including whether women and LGTBI fans and contestants will be able to freely participate in the games.

“With the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar and with the stream of recent Saudi-hosted events, the hosting of major sporting events is coming under increasing scrutiny.

“The Asian Games shouldn’t become a vehicle for states to ‘sportswash’ their reputations — instead they should be an opportunity for human rights to be properly bolstered and defended in hosting countries.”

–IANS

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