Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – The 2023 World Combat Games opened in spectacular fashion with over 4,000 attendees in the breathtaking Olympic Green Hall. The ceremony was chaired by the Vice President of the Saudi Arabian Olympic and Paralympic Committee, His Highness Prince Fahad bin Jalawi Al Saud and the President of SportAccord, Mr. Ivo Ferriani, with many distinguished guests, athletes, and sports enthusiasts in attendance.
The audience was treated to a captivating and emotional journey of the four elements: Fire, Water, Wind and Earth, all tying into the concept of universality. Each one of the 16 recognized and non-recognized sports were featured in the ceremony, each telling a compelling story of perseverance, strength, hope and at the center inclusion of everybody.
In addition to the spectacular performances of the martial arts, the audience was treated to the heartfelt melodics and enchanting vocals of Zena Emad who performed a traditional Arabic welcoming song to the delight of all those present.
Mr. Ivo Ferriani stated proudly:
“This historical event brings together not only the champions of champions, but also the champions of all abilities to an event which is built on inclusion, nondiscrimination, and equality, and these values are now, in a world of uncertainty, more important than ever.”
He then addressed the athletes turned to the athletes, saying:
“Martial arts are a perfect example of how we can compete in the utmost rivalry, but at the same time respect for one another is always key. You, the athletes, are the best ambassadors. Showcasing that living peacefully together is not just a dream.”
His Highness, Vice President of Saudi Olympic and Paralympic committee, Prince Fahad bin Jalawi Al Saud inaugurated the World Combat Games, saying:
“The unwavering support of our wise leadership has elevated the Kingdom to become a global destination for the world’s most prominent sporting events.”
Athletes of all-abilities were represented and this advocation was evidenced during the Athlete’s oath which was pledged by Dunya Abutaleb and Hasna Al Najm from the Saudi Arabian National Team. Moreover, a jaw-dropping wheelchair performance took center stage, capturing the inclusive and dynamic spirit of the sports event and showing that there are no limitations to what one can achieve.
UTS President Mr Stephan Fox, the Chairman of the World Combat Games, and the heart and soul behind the operation, said:
“The World Combat Games 2023 will be a celebration of the values of martial arts in which nondiscrimination, inclusion, equality, solidarity, and standing for a better world is paramount. The games will give an unprecedented opportunity to show how martial arts are inclusive as an example to the world that together we are stronger and together we can achieve against all odds”
Stephan Fox further elaborated on the concept of universality, by using the four elements of nature to visualize this idea and bring it to life and said:
“The four elements of Fire, Water, Wind and Earth, coming together into the collective concept of universality carries an important message of unity in diversity, where opposites act and counter act as a essential balance inside and around all of us – we are all one.”
The ceremony ended with an international viewing of over 2 million globally, the Kingdom opened its heart to the world and the games are ready to show the world how change can start with sport.
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