IOC President Thomas Bach was in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, this weekend to visit the National Olympic and Paralympic Committee (NOC), and to see for himself the impressive development of sport in the Kingdom.

As a guest at the Saudi National Games, the President watched a number of sports and visited the fan zone. The second edition of the Games saw more than 8,000 participants from across the country competing in 53 sports, including Paralympic sports, and a number of Esports competitions.  The Games, which also saw record participation by female athletes of 28 per cent, are part of the rapid growth of the sports sector, as outlined in the Vision 2030 strategy for the Kingdom. The aim is to use sport as a tool for health, inclusion and cohesion of Saudi society, and to promote gender quality and economic growth.  At the same time, the Saudi NOC is also focusing on the performance of Saudi athletes at the elite level.

Speaking at the NOC headquarters, President Bach told the organisers: “The seamless organisation of this event and the professional development of sport in Saudi Arabia are very impressive. I have rarely seen such a positive development of sport in such a short time. With increased engagement at all levels, and in particular a rise in the level of female participation, the goals of the sports strategy in many ways mirror the aims of our Olympic Agenda reform programme,” he added.

Later, in a meeting with the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, the two leaders discussed the forthcoming Olympic Games Paris 2024. They also exchanged extensively on the IOC initiative to create Olympic Esports Games.

The current geopolitical situation and its impact on world sport were also discussed. In this respect, the Crown Prince fully supported the IOC’s position on the unifying power of sport and the autonomy of the IOC, which is essential for it to fulfil its peace-building mission. The Crown Prince also emphasized the support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the recent United Nations Truce resolution “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal”, for which the IOC President thanked him warmly.

IFMA would like to thank the International Olympic Committee and for President Bach for all his support and certainly the National Olympic and Paralympic Committee of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Muaythai Federation. We are grateful for this special occasion.