Middle east neighbours Qatar and Saudi Arabia are going head-to-head to win the hosting rights for the 2030 Asian Games. The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) had invited bids for the 2030 Games from its 45 members by Wednesday. (More Sports News)
According to reports, the bitter oil-rich countries have lodged bids to host the continental Games. The OCA, confirming the bids, said it is "delighted to receive two strong bids for our Asian Games in 2030".
"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.
"This will allow our National Olympic Committees, our administrators and, above all, our athletes to make solid plans for the future in the short term, medium term and long term.
"It puts us in an envious position in terms of our sports calendar and highlights again that Asia is a major partner in the global Olympic Movement," Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, OCA President added.
Both countries have on numerous occasions been accused of human rights violations.
Amnesty International, a non-governmental organisation focused on human rights, has 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."
Qatar has been accused of keeping migrant workers who helped build stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in inhumane conditions. The country controversially won the right to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
Saudi Arabia has been in the sporting spotlight amid reports English Premier League team Newcastle United are being sold to a sovereign wealth fund, which involves Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for approximately £300million.
The deal will reportedly see the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia purchase an 80 per cent stake in Newcastle, who have been owned by retail entrepreneur Mike Ashley for the past 13 years.
Newcastle's proposed sale has previously attracted criticism from Amnesty International, which has expressed fears the deal is being used as a means of "glamorising" the "abysmal" human rights record in the kingdom.
Interestingly, Saudi Arabia led a blockade of Qatar in 2017, with the country accusing Doha of supporting terrorism. It was joined by others including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in severing diplomatic relations with Qatar.
Qatar hosted the 2006 edition of the Asian Games, while Saudi Arabia is yet to host an OCA multi-sport event.
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