Bubbles as Saudi Arabia holds its first women’s golf tournament

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Players will be kept entertained by a bowling alley and gyms at their hotels. (Supplied)

More than 1,500 coronavirus tests to be carried out during the events
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is welcoming back international live sports with safe zones as it prepares to hold its first professional women’s golf tournament.

“Bubbles” and a biosecure environment at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) will be in place throughout the elite-level European Ladies Tour golf tournaments that are starting from next week.

The $1 million Aramco Saudi Ladies International, presented by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, runs between Nov. 12-15, while the $500,000 Saudi Ladies Team International takes place between Nov. 17-19.

The bubbles will be home to between 500 and 600 people across three weeks, and the tournament will see more than 1,500 COVID-19 tests conducted, including at least three each for the events’ 110 players. There will also be testing for caddies and tournament staff.

Ladies European Tour players, event staff and personnel will have COVID-19 tests upon arrival in KAEC, before being permitted to enter the safe zones ahead of the tournament, where they will be in hotels for the event duration.

These measures have been implemented to ensure the health and safety of everyone, with all aspects of player and staff safety watched over by independent specialists who are experts in risk assessment and COVID-19 best practices. They include Dr. Andrew Murray, key adviser to Sport England and a technical advisor to the World
Health Organization.

There will be daily symptom checking on everyone within the bubbles, with contingency plans in place.

Majed Al-Sorour, CEO of Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation, said: “We have been building a safe and secure zone to bring back international sports to the Kingdom while adhering to COVID-19 precautionary measures. The area is designed to ensure that we can provide a secure environment to host Ladies European Tour golfers, but also protect the wider community. The landmark event will allow us to showcase that Saudi Arabia is ready to once again host major global events, while also developing the great game of golf and inspiring the next generation of young Saudis and Saudi golfers.”

The tournament is at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, which has been adapted to suit COVID-19 precautionary measures and will be sanitized throughout the run-up and duration of both events.

A 2-meter physical distance must be maintained at all times, with players and caddies the exception to this rule.

Away from the golf course, players will be kept entertained by a bowling alley, games room, cinema screen, gyms and swimming pools at their hotels.

Both tournaments will attract many of the world’s best golfers, with the Saudi Ladies Team International set to be the first time in women’s golf history that professionals — themselves competing in the Kingdom for the first time — will partner with amateurs in a points-earning Tour event.

The tournament marks the return of major international sporting events to the Kingdom, with the country aiming to inspire the next generation under the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan.

This article was first published in Arab News

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