Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – The Riyadh 2023 World Combat Games are officially at their halfway mark, having reached Day 6 of 11 at the King Saud University Arena in the Saudi Arabian capital.
The atmosphere on and off the field of play has been electric. Visitors can witness athletes from 16 martial arts and combat sports competing fiercely indoors or take in an array of entertainment, cultural and sporting options outside in the Fan Zone.
Athletes from the Ukraine and host nation have turned the most heads so far, with Team Ukraine topping the medals table in terms of gold medals won (10) and Saudi Arabia claiming the most medals overall (27 – 3 gold, 11 silver, and 13 bronze).
Six sports have already come and gone at Riyadh 2023: Karate, Boxing, Wushu, SAMBO + Para SAMBO, Judo, Sumo. But while their athletes have departed, their impact on these Games can still be felt.
Wrestling, Ju-Jitsu + Para Ju-Jitsu, Aikido + Para Aikido, Kickboxing, and Fencing are now under way, with Armwrestling + Para Armwrestling, Taekwondo, Savate + Para Savate, Muaythai and Para Muaythai and Kendo set to get started in the second half of the tournament running from 20-30 October.
In total, 80 sets of medals have been awarded here, with athletes from 33 nationalities winning gold and 72 nationalities making the podium at least once.
Ian Reid, Riyadh 2023 World Combat Games CEO, reflected on the event thus far, stating: “The dedication and meticulous planning by our teams have truly come to fruition. Riyadh has showcased its expertise as a world-class host, resonating with our initial vision for these Games.
“The fusion of elite athleticism, cultural heritage, and the country’s commitment to inclusivity and sportsmanship has been palpable. Observing the athletes, their passion and years of relentless training are evident in every match, elevating not only the standards of the Games but also encapsulating the true spirit of martial arts. We’re confident that as we approach the culmination, these Games will be remembered as a transformative moment for international sports hosted within Saudi Arabia.”
Change and innovation are far from mere platitudes here at Riyadh 2023. One of the highlights of these World Combat Games has been the highly sustainable venue plan, with all 16 sports taking place under one roof and five halls inside the King Saud University Arena.
Due to the central nature and proximity of the sports, the carbon footprint of these Games has been significantly reduced, while also making it much easier for athletes, spectators and workers to move between the sports.
Another unique highlight of Riyadh 2023 is the placing of para athletes and their able-bodied compatriots together on the same national teams. In a powerful display of unity and inclusion, results from all the athletes are being reflected in a single, unified medals table.
Asked if there was anything on the second half of the sports calendar he was particularly interested in seeing at these World Combat Games, Head of Sports for the local organising committee of Riyadh 2023 Amro Turkistani said: “I’m really looking forward to watching Savate and also Kendo, the reason being is that these events have never been organised in Saudi so it’s a learning opportunity for all of us. At the end of the day, we want to see these sports in Saudi, not only to have them here, but also to compete and get medals in them one day in the future.”
All of this has ensured an auspicious start to the Riyadh 2023 World Combat Games, which bodes well for the second half of competition. Don’t miss it!