By Gavin Gibbon
Diriyah is already hosting the Formula E Grand Prix later this month and boxing's 'Clash of the Dunes' in December
Saudi Arabia has the potential to host a future Olympic Games, according to Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) CEO Jerry Inzerillo.
The ancient site of Diriyah, which is located on the outskirts of Riyadh, is preparing to welcome 100,000 people for the 2019 Diriyah E-Prix Formula-E race later this month – up from 40,000 spectators in 2018.
While the heavyweight rematch between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua, dubbed the ‘Clash on the Dunes’ is to take place on December 7 in Diriyah, with 15,000 tickets for the eagerly awaited contest in the specially created Diriyah Arena selling out in 36 hours.
Saudi Arabia has also been chosen to host the G20 summit in November 2020, the first time it will have been held in the Middle East.
Inzerillo told Arabian Business it was very early stages, but said an Olympics bid could definitely be on the cards.
“We don’t have approval from His Majesty the King or the Crown Prince, but there’s many of us who feel that once we successfully handle the G20, and very substantial preparation has gone into this to make it the greatest G20 of them all, that we will probably put together a committee to put together an Olympic bid to bring the Olympics to Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympics, followed by Paris four years later and then Los Angeles in 2028. As of earlier this year, media sources identified 16 potential bids for the 2032 Games, including, Johannesburg, South Africa; Accra, Ghana; Cairo, Egypt; Mumbai, India; Jakarta, Indonesia; Madrid, Spain; Brisbane, Australia; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The winning bid is scheduled to be selected in 2025 at the 143rd IOC Session.
Inzerillo has over 50 years’ experience in the leisure, tourism and hospitality sectors, having previously been CEO of the Forbes Travel Guide from 2014 to 2018, president and CEO of IMG Artists from 2012 to 2014, and president of resort giant Kerzner International between 1991 and 2011.
He said: “Having been involved in other executive committees, like Cape Town, even though it didn’t come to Africa at the time, Saudi Arabia now has the topography, it has the cities, it’s getting the infrastructure at a very fast pace. We will definitely be able to host an Olympic games if we have that privilege.”