Joshua-Fury, F1 and snooker – The sporting events taking place in Saudi Arabia

The Middle East kingdom, which has come in for criticism from human rights campaigners, has attracted many high-profile sporting events.

Anthony Joshua
Anthony Joshua

Saudi Arabia has been chosen as the venue for the heavyweight unification bout between British duo Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury in August, Eddie Hearn has said.

The fight joins a growing list of international sporting events to take place in the Middle East kingdom, which continues to attract criticism for its human rights record.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the other contests staged in the country.

Formula One

The inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will take place this year as Formula One bosses added a night race on the streets of Jeddah. The race will be held on Sunday 5 December and will feature the fastest street circuit in the sport, with cars expected to average speeds of around 250km/h.


Joshua has fought in the country before. He reclaimed his heavyweight world titles by defeating Andy Ruiz Jr in the so-called ‘Clash on the Dunes’ in Riyadh in December 2019. The hotly-anticipated rematch followed Amir Khan’s WBC international welterweight victory over Australian Billy Dib in Jeddah in 2019.


Two Italian Super Cup finals have been held in Saudi Arabia. Juventus – thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo goal – beat AC Milan in Jeddah in January 2019, before they lost 3-1 to Lazio in Riyadh later that year. In January 2020, Real Madrid claimed the Spanish Super Cup in Jeddah at the end of a four-club tournament which also featured Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Valencia.


Established in 2019, the Saudi International became the first European Tour event to be played in the country. Rory McIlroy ruled out competing at the 2020 tournament, confirming there was “a morality” behind his decision. Fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell went on to win the event, while Dustin Johnson won the inaugural staging and added another title in 2021.


Fury has also appeared at an event in Saudi Arabia before. He made his World Wrestling Entertainment debut at the ‘Crown Jewel’ event in October 2019, where he beat Braun Strowman at the King Saud University Stadium. It was the fourth of five WWE pay-per-view events held in the country to date.


October 2020 was scheduled to see Saudi Arabia host a ranking event for the first time, under a 10-year partnership deal with World Snooker. But the inaugural Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters in Riyadh – which was set to have a total fund of £2.5million, including a top prize of £500,000 – was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Horse racing

The world’s richest horse race is held in Saudi Arabia. The 20million US dollars (£15.2million) Saudi Cup has been staged for the last two years at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh.


The last two editions of the Dakar Rally were held in Saudi Arabia. Carlos Sainz, father of Formula One driver Carlos Sainz Jr, won 2020’s car event, with two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso finishing 13th.

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