Climbing professionals criticize IFSC for NEOM Masters in Saudi Arabia

In an open letter, over 110 athletes and professional climbers criticize the international sport climbing association IFSC. The trigger was the NEOM Masters, a bouldering and speed competition that the IFSC organized at the end of November as part of the controversial Saudi Arabian billion-dollar NEOM project.

Adam Ondra, Josune Bereziartu, Tommy Caldwell, Catherine Destivelle, Margo Hayes, Alex Megos and Kilian Jornet – the list of climbing greats who criticized the IFSC in an open letter from the ACTS For Our Summits Association is long. Over 110 professional climbers and organizations accuse the international climbing band of allowing themselves to be exploited by Saudi Arabia with the IFSC NEOM Masters.

The climbing community cannot accept that its association supports a project of the dictatorial Saudi regime. A project that leads to violent expropriations, the murder of political opponents and the irreversible destruction of ecosystems.

ACTS

Sport climbing as part of a very questionable project

NEOM, the 500 billion Saudi mega project on the Red Sea coast, is highly controversial. Amnesty International and independent human rights organizations speak of greenwashing, massive lobbying and expropriations in connection with the planned mega-city. NEOM is an ecological disaster and violates human rights.

Many people are upset that the IFSC promoted the NEOM project with the bouldering and speed competition from November 22nd to 24th, 2023. And one wonders what the opinion of the IFSC Ethics Committee was when it was decided that climbing would be part of the NEOM Beach Games.

We believe that with this event the IFSC does not live up to its vision of “making the world a better place through sport climbing”, its mission “to promote sport climbing with sustainable events” and its values ​​of “protecting the environment”. has become.

ACTS

Video: This is how Saudi Arabia presents the NEOM project

The signatories of the open letter call on the IFSC to better align its strategic planning for 2020-2028 with the current ecological and social challenges.

This is what ACTS demands from the IFSC:

  • To create and fund an independent environmental and ethics committee to ensure that the IFSC adheres to its ecological values.
  • Refrain from partnering with companies that have proven to have a significant negative impact on the environment and people. Specifically, ACTS is calling for the partnerships with Japan Airlines and Toyo Tires to be ended.
  • A commitment for all members of the IFSC Board and its key stakeholders to participate in a comprehensive educational program on the environmental and climate crisis, as well as awareness-raising activities for international athletes and coaches.

As a community, we strongly believe that climbing should remain an ethical sport. The ecological crisis is the hardest climb we face, let's overcome it together.

ACTS

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Credits: Cover picture NEOMGames

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