ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq will host the 2021 Arab Games for the first time in its history, Iraq’s minister of youth and sports said on Friday.
Lebanon was set to hold the 13th edition of the tournament, but following meetings with Iraqi and Lebanese sports ministers, Beirut decided to withdraw their right at the behest of Baghdad.
“After several meetings and dialogues, we were able to reach an agreement for Iraq to host the 13th edition of the Arab Games in 2021 for the first time in its history,” Iraqi Minister for Youth and Sports Ahmed Riad said on his official Twitter page.
#العراق يستضيف دورة الالعاب العربية الثالثة عشر في سنة ٢٠٢١بعد عدة لقاءات وحوارات استطعنا أن يستضيف العراق ولأول مرة في تاريخه دورة الالعاب العربية الثالثة عشر والتي كانت مقرر أقامتها في بيروت شكرا لكل من وقف معنا وجعل هذا العرس الرياضي العربي في العراق pic.twitter.com/Ib3vLz8bVd— احمد رياض (@AhmedObeidii) August 23, 2019
Lebanese Sports Minister Mohammad Fneish, meanwhile, said he communicated with his Iraqi counterpart, noting the two did “not see any objection” to Iraq hosting the next session of the Arab Games.
“Lebanon will be ready in 2025,” he wrote on Facebook.
The Arab Games were to be held in Lebanon in 2015, but due to the general political turmoil in the region, the games had to be postponed.
The last edition of the tournament was held in Doha, Qatar, in 2011.
There has been no date announced yet for the opening of the 2021 games, and it remains subject to being postponed again depending on the security situation in Iraq and the Middle East at large.
Iraq is eighth overall in the all-time medal table for the Arab Games, having collected 344 medals (77 gold, 116 silver, and 151 bronze).
The news comes as FIFA, world football’s governing body, gave Iraq the green light to play 2022 World Cup qualification matches at home.
The decision was made following a successful 2019 West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Championship in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region—the first major international tournament held in the region since the 1991 Gulf War.