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1972Sports in the Arab World

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International Affairs

Photographed by Robert Azzi and Khalil Abou El Nasr
Additional photographs by Nik Wheeler

Maybe it's because cosmopolitan Lebanon is such a natural meeting place. Maybe it's because the high mountains rising out of the sea offer scenery and climate rivaling the Riviera. Or maybe it's just because in a small country you simply have to look beyond your borders to find stimulating competition.

Whatever the reasons, Lebanon's sporting federations and individual sports teams have definitely been bitten by the international bug. Scarcely a meet or tournament is held that doesn't have "International" as an essential part of its name, and teams and players from neighboring Arab countries and Europe are constantly jetting in and out of Beirut's "International" Airport.

One event, the Broumana International Tennis Tournament, held in a cool mountain resort each summer, is now in its 39th year. The world water ski championships were held in St. George's Bay way back in 1955, largely through the influence of Simon Khoury, a Lebanese and European champion then working at Florida's Cypress Gardens. Shooting and skiing federations have both sponsored numerous international competitions and this February the Lebanese Army was host to teams from 10 countries at the 17th International Military Ski Championships held at the Cedars of Lebanon. And, in its 11th international tournament, the fencing federation recently drew world champions Catherine Cerutti and Jaques Ladegallerie.

But the international flavor of sports in Lebanon probably reached a peak last autumn when, in the space of a single one-month period, the little country hosted three international sporting events—on land (auto racing), sea (sailing) and "air" (horse jumping).

This article appeared on pages 14-15 of the Sports in the Arab World print edition of Saudi Aramco World.


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