The first-ever Saudi Winter Olympics delegation arrived in the Chinese capital on Thursday to participate in the 24th Games — Beijing 2022.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, Minister of Sports and President of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee (SOPC), is heading the Saudi delegation to the Games, which will kick off Friday and last till February 20.
In a statement on the occasion, Prince Abdulaziz expressed utmost appreciation for the generous support of the Saudi government, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman for paving the way for Saudi athletes to participate and compete in the Olympic Games.
“The support received by the sports sector from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince has enabled us to participate for the first time in the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the winter Olympics, which will grant all Saudi talents an opportunity to excel in all international events and will lead sports to further development in various games,” Prince Abdulaziz said.
"These efforts became fruitful through the qualification of the Saudi rower, Hussain Alireza, to participate in Tokyo 2020, and now through the first-ever participation in the Winter Olympics through alpine skier Fayik Abdi," the prince said.
The Saudi Winter Olympics participation will see Fayik Abdi competing in the Giant Slalom event less than two months after qualifying for Beijing 2022.
Abdi qualified for the Olympics in December after scoring 131.03 points during the five best races he participated in, registering his name as the first Saudi to participate in the winter Olympics since its launch in 1924.
For Saudis, participation in the Winter Games brings back memories of the nation’s first Olympic appearance in Munich in 1972.
They believe this moment is no different, as a new path has opened its doors to welcome more Saudis to compete and embrace a new sporting lifestyle.
The historical participation came after less than two years of forming the Saudi Winter Sports Federation (SWSF), which oversees all Winter Sports activities in the Kingdom.
“The participation in the winter Olympics for the first time in the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through Fayik Abdi, to whom I wish all success and luck, pushes us to move forward and work to develop our athletes in various games, in realization of the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030 that aims at changing the dreams of all athletes into a reality that makes us all proud,” Prince Abdulaziz said.
In May of 2021, SOPC and SWSF launched a nationwide talent campaign seeking young Saudis to represent their country at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. The campaign produced outstanding results, as six professional Saudi Winter Sports athletes, including Abdi, proved their readiness to take on the challenge and bring their nation to mark its first-ever appearance at the grand winter sporting event.
The Saudi delegation includes Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed, Vice President of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee; Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, member of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee and member of the International Olympic Committee; and member of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Adwa Al-Oraifi.
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