Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Describing Riyadh 2023 as the “best ever” World Combat Games, SportAccord President Ivo Ferriani brought the curtains down on 11 days of elite martial arts and combat sports competition during a festive Closing Ceremony here at the King Saud University Arena.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has, with this event, clearly demonstrated that they have everything in place to host any major event at the highest level,” Ferriani said. “This includes the appropriate infrastructure and venues, and especially the required professionalism, hospitality, and readiness – not to mention tremendous ambition and a great passion for sport.
“Without a shadow of a doubt this edition has been the best we have seen so far.”
The Games were officially declared closed by His Highness Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz, Vice President of the Saudi Olympic & Paralympic Committee.
“We are immensely proud of the unwavering passion and determination displayed by each of the 1,500 male and female athletes that took part in this year’s World Combat Games,” His Highness said. “Their commitment to competing with honour across 16 sports culminated in triumphant moments on the podium. Today, we celebrate not only the event but each and every milestone achieved during this significant occasion.”
The Ceremony told the story of the emotional journey from aspiring amateurs to world-class warriors of the athletes who competed at Riyadh 2023. A light show illuminated the night sky and featured LED jugglers, light painters, and an LED Battle Show that featured the 16 sports that took part in these World Combat Games: Aikido, Armwrestling, Boxing, Fencing, Judo, Ju-jitsu, Karate, Kendo, Kickboxing, Muaythai, Sambo, Savate, Sumo, Taekwondo, Wrestling and Wushu.
In total, 954 medals were won at Riyadh 2023: 259 gold, 259 silver and 436 bronze. Team Ukraine topped the medal standings, followed by runners-up Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan in third.
The first major international multisport event ever organised in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh 2023 gave the Kingdom valuable hosting knowledge and expertise. The event will long be remembered for its initiatives to foster inclusion and sustainability.
In a powerful message of unity and empowerment, Para and Special athletes competed alongside their able-bodied compatriots on the same national teams, with all results counting toward a unified medals table.
Six sports – Aikido, Armwrestling, Ju-Jitsu, Muaythai, SAMBO and Savate – also featured Para and Special competitions in Riyadh.
Another unique feature of these Games was the commitment to sustainability. All 16 sports were organised together under one roof at the King Saud University Arena from 20-30 October, thereby drastically reducing the carbon footprint of the event while also making travel between the sports quicker and easier for the athletes, officials, and spectators in attendance.
Combat sports fans unable to travel to Riyadh were given the opportunity to follow all the action live on their TV and computer screens thanks to broadcasters in 100+ countries and territories who covered the Games. Livestreaming of all the events was also provided on the official Riyadh 2023 website.
The host of the next edition of the World Combat Games, to be held in 2025, is expected to be announced in early 2024.
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The World Combat Games are an international multi-sport event featuring the best athletes in combat sports and martial arts. They were established to celebrate the athletes and values of these sports in one place, and to expose them to an international audience. The World Combat Games concept aims for a compact and manageable event that offers cities an opportunity for focused international promotion, engagement with local communities (in particular young people), and the advancement of public health and wellness agendas through inspiring initiatives encouraging participation in combat sports.
For more information about these Games, head to the Riyadh 2023 official website.