Diplomacy Through Sport

Diplomacy Through Sport
Kingdom of Thailand & Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Today has marked a historical day between two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, when His Excellency General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Thailand and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia concluded a two-day meeting in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Thailand and Saudi Arabia, for nearly 30 years have had no diplomatic relations but today, with this historical agreement, the affairs between these two kingdoms will go back to normal. Many important factors played a role in this historical meeting and agreement and Thailand’s national sport, muaythai, no doubt was one.

The International Federation of Muaythai Associations, the sole governing body recognized by the International Olympic Committee, uses muaythai as a tool for cultural exchange and understanding. For the last 5 years, IFMA has promoted, together with the National Olympic Committee of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sports Ministry, the art and sport of muaythai with the leading Thai Masters travelling to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to help to build a national federation under IFMA. Today, the National Muaythai Federation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a member of IFMA and is fully established with His Royal Highness Prince Fahad Al Saud being the President and also a member of the IFMA Executive Board.

In December last year, the Muaythai World Championships took place in Thailand where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sent an official team to the event and returned with medals. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will also be the host for the Asian Muaythai Championships this year, which will be the final qualifier for The World Games 2022 and the first time the Kingdom is organizing an international muaythai event of this magnitude.

The Honorary President of IFMA and the President of the National Federation of Thailand Dr. Sakchye Tapsuwan stated that it is a proud day both for the Kingdom of Thailand and its national sport, highlighting the cultural values of respect, honor, tradition, excellence and fair play are part of all muaythai members.

Thailand also hosted the 2020 United Through Sports World Virtual Youth Festival under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee, Special Olympics International and International Paralympic Committee. The event stood for and with the youth of the world for inclusion, equality, non-discrimination and peace. The President of United Through Sports Stephan Fox said that it was a historical moment at the closing ceremony when His Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal the President of the National Olympic Committee and Minister of Sport addressed the Kingdom of Thailand in Thai language and the announcement of the 2021 event to be hosted in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, taking over from the Kingdom of Thailand. This was an important element of peace from the youth of the world. The Kingdom of Thailand participated at the opening ceremony at the 2021 World Virtual Youth Festival in the historical birthplace of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Diriyah, and many Thai youth were part of the opening and closing ceremony.

Both Festivals were opened by the President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach, President of the International Paralympic Committee Andrew Parsons and CEO of Special Olympics International Mary Davis, the 8th UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Professor Yunus, from the Kingdom of Thailand the President of the NOC General Prawit Wongsuwon, Minister of Tourism and Sport Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, IOC Member Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul, and from the Saudi side, His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal from the National Olympic Committee of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

His Excellency the President of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand General Prawit Wongsuwon opened the festival in Thailand stating how proud he was that Thailand was selected to be the host country and history was made when His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal President of the National Olympic Committee of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia closed the event taking over from Thailand.

The National Sports Development Fund under Director Surpanee Guptasa said that they are also proud that the NSDF sponsored the Thailand event and that she had been invited to the opening of the Festival in Saudi Arabia.

Thailand’s IOC Member Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul who met the Crown Prince and the President of the National Olympic Committee and Minister of Sport also played an important part in this sporting exchange and cooperation between the Kingdoms. Thailand can be rightfully proud that sport and Thailand’s national sport of muaythai has played a fundamental role in bringing the nations closer together.

This year, the Royal World Cup will travel the world in honor of His Late Majesty King Rama IV in countries where Thailand has a close royal relationship. This prestigious event series is fully supported by the Royal Thai Government and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will host an important stage of the Royal World Cup in which Thailand and Saudi government officials will enjoy muaythai and the close relationship between the two countries through the power of sport.

IFMA, who is striving to take muaythai to the highest recognition, also recently has signed an important MoU with the National Identity Foundation and His Excellency General Surayud Chulanont. This MoU stands to support IFMA in promoting muaythai in all aspects especially as muaythai is already included in many multi-sport games not just as a combat sport but also the traditional facets of muaythai, Wai Kru and Mae Mai Muaythai, are recognized as full medal events. The Royal World Cup plays an important part in IFMA’s strategy towards highest recognition.

An MoU has been signed between United Through Sports, IFMA and the National Olympic Committee of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Ministry of Sport under His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal to work closely together between all organizations and institutions and safeguarding the future of sport for peace. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been given the rights to host the World Combat Games in 2023 and Asian Games 2034 and needless to say Muaythai will be part of this events. Another sporting cooperation between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be the Indoor Asian Games. Thailand will be hosting the 2023 edition and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2025.

We would like to thank His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Excellency General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Thailand, for this historical day and we congratulate both Kingdoms.


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