OCA chief eyes ‘win-win’ solution

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    OLYMPIC Council of Asia (OCA) chief Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Saba said on Tuesday he was looking for a solution where Doha and Riyadh will get to host the Asian Games in the future as both candidate cities battle for the 2030 edition.

    Bitter neighbors Qatar and Saudi Arabia will know the fate of their bids for hosting rights to the second-biggest multi-sport event after the Olympics when the OCA votes to choose between Doha and Riyadh at its general assembly on Wednesday.

    However, in a last-minute attempt to prevent a diplomatic dispute, Sheikh Ahmad said he was looking to avoid a vote by persuading one city to hold the 2030 Games while the other will stage the following edition in 2034.

    Doha hosted the 2006 Games, but Saudi Arabia has never organized an OCA multi-sport event.

    “I believe in the OCA that we always show solidarity and unity, and for this reason I will try to find a solution,” the OCA chief said at an executive board meeting in Muscat.

    “I have visited both cities and they are ready to host the Asian Games in 2030. They have great financial support, great sports infrastructure and great support from all levels of government.

    “I will talk to them both tonight and try to find a win-win situation.”

    The OCA said Sheikh Ahmad received “unanimous backing” from members of the executive board in his attempt to find a solution for the two candidate cities.

    Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have maintained a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.

    Qatar denies the charges and says the embargo by its fellow Gulf Arabs aims to undermine its sovereignty.

    Ng Ser Miang, the chairman of the OCA advisory committee and vice president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said the proposed hosting solution was akin to the IOC decision to award the Olympics to Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028.

    “In this case, all were winners and there were no losers,” he said.

    Chinese city Hangzhou will host the next Asian Games in 2022 with the 2026 edition due to take place in Aichi-Nagoya, Japan.