With the countdown clock now at 10 days, anticipation is steadily rising ahead of the third edition of the World Combat Games, set to take place this 20-30 October in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.

The local organizing committee is in the final stages of the operational readiness phase, with preparations being fine-tuned ahead of what is expected to be an exceptional Opening Ceremony on 19 October to officially launch the event.

“We can’t wait to welcome fans to the Riyadh 2023 World Combat Games and open a window to the world for people watching across the globe,” said Paul Hardy, Chief Operating Officer for Riyadh 2023.

Hardy added that he has received nothing but positive feedback from athletes and International Federations who have already toured the facilities. In total, more than 1,500 athletes from 120+ countries are set to compete in 16 sports: aikido, armwrestling, boxing, fencing, judo, ju-jitsu, karate, kendo, kickboxing, muaythai, sambo, savate, sumo, taekwondo, wrestling and wushu.

“Working with the international federations, athletes and technical officials, our preparations are going very smoothly, with final approvals given on the field of play, warm-up areas, timing, scoring and results,” Hardy continued. 

For some sports, the event will provide athletes with a top-calibre test ahead of next summer’s Olympic Games Paris 2024. While for athletes competing in non-Olympic sports, the event is an opportunity to square off against other elite internationals for a chance to return home with a prestigious World Combat Games medal.

Riyadh 2023 is also set to be one of the most inclusive multi-sport competitions in history thanks to National Teams made up of athletes with disabilities and their non-disabled counterparts. Results from all competitions will be added to a single, unified medals table.

“One of the best things about combat sports is that at their core they are all about inclusion and diversity, from the grassroots level all the way up to professional,” said SportAccord President Ivo Ferriani. “Anywhere you go around the world you will find combat athletes of all backgrounds, genders and abilities striving to better themselves in these sports – without prejudice. So it was only natural for us to not differentiate between the athletes. They will represent their nations together, united in their diversity.”

The competition will take place over 11 days at the King Saud University Indoor Stadium and is set to feature more than 900 male athletes and 700 female athletes battling for podium finishes. 

Riyadh 2023 promises to be much more than just a sporting event. Fans will also be treated to an array of activities aimed at promoting physical excellence, cultural exchange, and international collaboration.

“The fan zones being planned outside the venue will be an immersive experience with sights, sounds, energy, and food, transporting people to another place entirely with the theme of combat sports on display throughout,” said Hardy. “The zones are designed to appeal to an international audience and also showcase what’s on offer from the region.”

The sporting competition will be preceded by Peace and Sport’s Middle East Forum on 18-19 October. The event will be held in the diplomatic quarter of Riyadh and provide a platform for dialogue between international experts and local decision-makers on peace through sport and sport-for-all initiatives. The Forum will be attended by Presidents and other high-ranking officials from the 16 sports assembled in Riyadh for the Games.

Earlier this year, SportAccord became a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Code as part of its ongoing commitment to clean sport and to ensure the highest standards are met as well as cooperation between sports organisations and public authorities worldwide. The International Testing Agency (ITA) will manage the anti-doping programme for the World Combat Games Riyadh 2023.

The official website for ticket sales can be found at https://tickets.riyadh2023.com/. Ticket kiosks will also be located at the King Saud University Stadium throughout the duration of the Games.

As part of the event’s inclusive nature, free admission will be granted to families of participating athletes, children under 12, senior citizens and others.