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Team World Taekwondo Demo perform during the Opening Ceremony of World Combat Games 2023 (@WCGRiyadh2023 on X)

Combat Sports

World Combat Games Riyadh 2023 officially open after a decade-long halt

On behalf of His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki, Minister of Sports and President of the Saudi Olympic & Paralympic Committee (SOPC), His Highness Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdul Aziz, Vice President of SOPC, proudly inaugurated the big comeback of the World Combat Games Riyadh 2023 tonight after a decade-long halt since Saint Petersburg 2013.

This edition, held for the first time in the Middle East, goes underway from October 20-31, all under one roof at King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital.

The 2023 edition is considered the biggest in terms of participation, with over 1500 registered athletes from 120 participating countries from all five continents of the world. Attended by leading sports personalities and heads of Martial Art and Combat Sports International Federations.


Para-sports will be included for the first time in this edition in 6 sports: Aikido, Muaythai, Armwrestling, Ju-Jitsu, Sambo and Savate. With athletes competing in 16 combat sports: Aikido, Arm wrestling, Boxing, Fencing, Judo, Ju-jitsu, Karate, Kendo, Kickboxing, Muaythai, Sambo (Russian Wrestling), Savate (French Boxing), Sumo, Taekwondo, Wrestling, Wushu.

International Sports Federations flags displayed during the Opening Ceremony of World Combat Games 2023 (@WCGRiyadh2023 on X)


The Opening ceremony, held at the SOPC Arena, was full of edge, diversity, rich culture, creativity and colour. A demonstration team from each sport took us on a trip into a different dimension full of wonders, discipline and passion, featuring some of the world’s best demo teams like the world-famous World Taekwondo Demo Team.

His Highness Prince Fahad bin Jalawi opened the Games saying: “From the heart of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I extend a warm welcome to each of you who have gathered for the Riyadh 2023 World Combat Games. We have invested months of unwavering dedication to ensure the highest level of success for this prestigious event.

“As we inaugurate the Riyadh 2023 World Combat Games, the world will bear witness to this extraordinary display of passion and dedication. Over 1,500 male and female athletes representing 16 combat sports and martial arts disciplines will showcase their exceptional talents, promising a remarkable 11-day journey through sporting greatness.

“Today, with deep pride, I officially declare the commencement of the Riyadh 2023 World Combat Games. To all the participating athletes, the world stage is yours. Seize the moment and showcase your incredible talents as you embody the true essence of competition while representing your distinguished nations with honour and distinction.” he concluded.

His Highness Prince Fahad bin Jalawi, Vice President of the Saudi Olympic Committee speaking at the opening ceremony of World Combat Games 2023 (@WCGRiyadh2023 on X)


SportAccord President, Ivo Ferriani, took the stage first saying: “This event brings together not only champions of the champions, but also the champions of all abilities, to celebrate a moment of sport which is built on inclusion, non-discrimination, equality, values that are now, in a world of uncertainty, more important than ever.”


He added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince, for His vision of 2030, in which tolerance, and developing a safe, sustainable, and peaceful future, for the next generations, are at the forefront and in the hearts of all of us.

“Here, we look to the athletes of the world, from martial arts and combat sports, as perfect examples of how we can compete in the utmost rivalry, but at the same time, express respect for one another.”


Dunya Abutaleb, a Saudi female Taekwondo sensation, and Hasna Al Najm, a Saudi female Arm Wrestling para-champion, pledged the oath of the World Combat Games at the start of the ceremony.


There will be 5 competition mats split into two different zones inside the King Saud University Stadium, in addition to 5 different warm-up zones, athletes’ rooms, media operations room, media centre, media conference room and a restaurant lounge at the venue.


Friday morning, October 20th, Karate and Sambo competitions will begin at 10 am in KSU 1, Sambo at 1:23 pm in KSU 5, Boxing at 4 pm in KSU 1, Karate at 5:30 pm in KSU 1 and boxing at 7 pm in KSU 2. View event website here.


Credit: AIPS Media

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