Anthony Joshua’s rematch against Oleksandr Usyk was announced for Saudi Arabia on August 20.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the other competitions hosted in the country.
Table of Contents
The inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was held in December 2021 with a night race in Jeddah, which hosted the sport’s fastest street circuit, and returned to even more controversy there in March when a missile attack on an oil refinery 10 miles from the track away threatened strike by drivers. The event also took place against the backdrop of human rights issues, as the country had carried out the mass execution of 81 men just days before.
Joshua has fought in the country before. He regained his world heavyweight titles by defeating Andy Ruiz Jr. in the so-called “Clash on the Dunes” in December 2019 in Riyadh.
Two Italian Super Cup finals have been played in Saudi Arabia. Juventus beat AC Milan in Jeddah in January 2019, thanks to a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo, before losing 3-1 to Lazio in Riyadh later that year. Real Madrid have won two Spanish Super Cups in Jeddah, the first in 2020 when they beat Atletico and again this year by beating Athletic Bilbao.
Established in 2019, Saudi International was the first European Tour event to be held in the country. Rory McIlroy ruled out participating in the 2020 tournament, confirming there was “a moral” behind his decision. Graeme McDowell, a compatriot from Northern Ireland, won the event while Dustin Johnson won the inaugural event, adding another title in 2021. The controversial LIV Golf Series, funded by Saudi Arabian funds, lands in Jeddah in October as the penultimate round of the eight-event series. This will be followed by hosting the Aramco Team Series in the city, which grew out of the 2020 Saudi Ladies Team International.
WWE has held events in Saudi Arabia since 2018. There have been seven visits so far, with a second planned for November this year. Joshua’s fellow heavyweight Tyson Fury was already appearing at an event in Saudi Arabia when he made his debut at the Crown Jewel event in October 2019, where he defeated Braun Strowman at King Fahd International Stadium.
The richest horse race in the world takes place in Saudi Arabia. The US$20m (£15.2m) Saudi Cup has been staged at Riyadh’s King Abdulaziz Racetrack for the past three years.
The last three editions of the Dakar Rally have been held in Saudi Arabia and it is set to return in 2023. Carlos Sainz, father of Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr., won the 2020 auto race, two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso turned 13. In the last four years, Formula E has held one race on the street circuit in Riyadh.
In October 2020, Saudi Arabia was set to host a ranking event for the first time as part of a 10-year partnership deal with World Snooker. But the inaugural Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters in Riyadh – which was to have a total fund of £2.5m including a £500,000 top prize – has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.