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Choice of Saudi for Winter Games reflects worsening environment for major events

Desert dream: Saudi Arabia was chosen to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at NEOM, an under-construction $500 billion futuristic megacity that planners say will feature a year-round winter sports complex
— Lausanne (AFP)

The decision to award the 2029 Asian Winter Games to Saudi Arabia may have been greeted with amazement but it follows a double logic.

For the biggest events, hosts are becoming harder to find than snowstorms in the Arabian desert. For those willing to undertake the task, the appeal of major sports competitions is as national showcases.

It is difficult to imagine a more spectacular contrast than between the Japanese powder of Sapporo, site of the 1972 Winter Olympics as well as the first Asian Winter Games in 1986 and the most recent in 2017 and the mountainous desert of Trojena, 50 kilometres from the coast of the Red Sea.

"It is awful for our sport," Olympic downhill silver medallist Johan Clarey told French radio,

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