Sport in Lebanon
Because of Lebanon's unique geography, both summer and winter sports thrive in the country. In fact, during autumn and spring it is sometimes possible to engage in both activities on the same day; for example, skiing in the morning and swimming in the afternoon.
In 1959, Beirut hosted the third Mediterranean Games. Lebanon hosted the Asian Cup in 2000 and the Pan-Arab Games in 1957 and again in 1997. In December 2011, Lebanon gained acceptance to host the 13th Pan-Arab Games in 2015. Although the Asian Winter Games were under consideration to be held in Lebanon in 2009, they ultimately did not take place. However, Lebanon did host Les Jeux de la Francophonie in 2009.
- 1 Autosports
- 2 Athletics
- 3 Bodybuilding
- 4 Combat Sports
- 5 Equine Sports
- 6 Mountain Sports
- 7 Raquet Sports
- 8 Team Sports
- 9 Water Sports
- 10 Weightlifting
- 11 Winter Sports
- 12 See also
- 13 References
Grand Prix Racing
In 2001, Solidere revealed plans to build a racing circuit in the Beirut Central District in a bid to stage Formula One races in Lebanon. The plan was to make the Beirut Formula One the only in-city Grand Prix outside Monaco. The plans never saw fruition. However, Lebanon entered the world of international motor sport in 2004 with the formation of the Lebanese A1 Grand Prix team that included driver Basil Shaaban, making Lebanon the first Arab nation to participate in the World Cup of Motorsport.
Jogging is a popular sport, especially in the capital along the Corniche Beirut, in the Horsh Beirut and the Shoreline Walk in Beirut Central District. Outside Beirut, jogging is practiced at the Marina Joseph Khoury in Dbayeh and along the corniches of Tripoli, Tyre and Sidon.
The Beirut International Marathon (BIM) has been an annual, international event since 2003. It is held every fall, drawing top runners from Lebanon and abroad. Shorter races are also held for youth and less serious competitors. Race day is promoted as a fun, family event, and it has become a tradition for many to participate in costumes or outlandish clothing.
Bodybuilding is a popular sport in Lebanon. Bodybuilders like George Farah, Samir Bannout and Mohammad Bannout, won international competitions. Edward Michel Kaouk was another Lebanese bodybuilder who won the Championship of Arabs and the Middles East in 1979, the Paris Amateur Bodybuilding Championship in 1980, and the World Amateur Bodybuilding Championship the same year. Malih Alaywan, once IFBB's vice president for the Middle East, was credited with creating support for bodybuilding in Lebanon and the Arab world.
Khalil Taha was a bronze medal winner in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics in Greco-Roman wrestling, while Zakaria Chihab won the silver. In 1980, Hassan Bechara won the bronze medal at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
Martial arts are also popular combat sports in Lebanon.
The Beirut Hippodrome, a horse-racing facility built in 1885, is once again operating and regaining its former popularity after years of neglect during the war. Additionally, private clubs have been established in Lebanon, such as The Lebanese Equestrian Club (CHL) also known as Club Hippique Libanais, which was founded in 1981.
Hiking, trekking and mountain biking are popular sports in the summer when ski lifts can be used to access some of Lebanon's best trails, with panoramic views stretching as far as Cyprus to the west and Syria to the east. The Lebanon Mountain Trail is Lebanon’s first national long-distance hiking trail that covers 440 km and passes through 75 villages, starting in the north and trecking over the spine of Mount Lebanon until it terminates in the south of Lebanon. The Baskinta Literary Trail, a 24-km long, offers hikers a chance to discover 22 literary landmarks related to several acclaimed, Lebanese literary figures. Cross-country running, rock climbing, and caving are also sports practiced across Mount Lebanon.
Hiking & Mountain Biking Areas
- Baskinta Literary Trail
- Cedars of Jaj
- Chouf Cedars Nature Reserve Hike
- Horsh Ehden
- Lebanon Mountain Trail
- Kadisha Valley
- Tannourine Nature Reserve
According to the 13th century French tale, L'histoire d'Apollonius de Tyr, the Stoic philosopher and Phoenician king, Apollonius of Tyre was the oldest tennis player and champion on record, albeit fictional. In reality, Lawn tennis did not come to Lebanon until 1889 when it was first introduced in the village of Brummana. Ainab was also one of the first villages in Lebanon to have a tennis court, which was built by five professors from the American University of Beirut early in the 20th century. The annual tennis tournament, which was an international event prior to the war, but now mostly a national one, is held at Brummana High School in August.
Lebanon has never made it to the FIFA World Cup or, in fact, ever won a trophy. The national team, which also competes in the West Asian Football Federation Championship, progressed to the first round of qualifying matches for the 2010 FIFA World Cup by eliminating India, 6-3 on aggregate, but failed to qualify. In 2011, coached by the German Theo Bücker, Lebanon beat UAE 3-1, tied with Kuwait in Beirut, but overwhelmmed them 1-0 in Kuwait City. The team then beat Korea in Beirut, moving Lebanon within "one point of advancing in the World Cup qualifying process".
The top division of football in Lebanon is the Lebanese Premier League. Twelve teams compete. The lexicons of football in Lebanon are Beirut clubs Nejmeh and Al-Ansar. The lower division is the Lebanese Second Division. Cup competitions include the Lebanese Elite Cup, the Lebanese FA Cup, Lebanese Super Cup and the Lebanese Federation Cup.
Basketball is one of the most popular sports in Lebanon. In basketball, the main federation is the Lebanese Basketball Federation it's a member of FIBA Asia. The first time basketball was played was in the mid of 1920's. The Lebanon national basketball team has qualified three consecutives times to the FIBA World Championship in 2002, 2006, 2010 and ranked 24th in the world and the women national team is ranked 61st in the world. Lebanon owns its own basketball league: Lebanese Basketball League for men and women in addition of the Lebanese Basketball Cup. The most successful Lebanese basketball clubs are Sporting Beirut and Sagesse for men and Antranik SC for women.
Very famous basketball players include:
- From Lebanon: Fadi El Khatib and Elie Mechantaf
- From the Lebanese diaspora: Rony Seikaly, Brian Beshara and Matt Freije
- Naturalized Lebanese players from the United States: Joe Vogel and Jackson Vroman
The Lebanese play mini football which is very similar or identical to futsal. The Lebanon national futsal team represents Lebanon in international futsal competitions and is controlled by the Futsal Commission of the Federation Libanaise de Football Association. It is one of the rising teams in Asia. In December 2007, Lebanon ranked 34 in the Futsal World Ranking, the sixth highest ranking Asian team that year. In 2010, Lebanon ranked 41 and in 2011, the country ranked 48.
Rugby league is a popular sport in Lebanon. The Lebanese Rugby League Federation is based in Safra in Lebanon. They are associate members of the Rugby League European Federation and full members of the Rugby League International Federation. The Lebanon national rugby league team qualified and played in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup, and nearly qualified for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup, but were narrowly beaten by Samoa in their final game. In 2011, Lebanon again nearly qualified for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup 2013 Rugby League World Cup but lost to Italy who became the 14th and final nation to qualify for the event. The Bank Of Beirut Championship is the leading domestic rugby league competition in Lebanon, and consists of 5 clubs (Tripoli City RLFC, Immortals RLFC, Jounieh RLFC, Wolves RLFC and Redbacks RLFC). The second division, known as the Shield Championship, consists mainly of teams representing Lebanese universities. Rugby league is popular amongst Lebanese schools, with regional schools championships held in the Tripoli and Beirut regions and a national schools championship contested at both U14s and U16s level. Lebanon has also sent schools to compete in regional international schools tournaments, and has hosted junior international sides from throughout the Middle East/North Africa region.
Rugby union in Lebanon dates back to the French colonial period.
Touch Football is a popular sport in Lebanon. In 1998, Lebanese Australians founded the Lebanon Touch Football Association. Since Lebanon's international debut in 1999 they have qualified for the 1999 World Cup in Australia where the Men's O30's won silver, Mixed Open won bronze and Men's Open came 5th. In the 2001 Youth World Cup in New Zealand the Lebanese Men's U18's team finished 4th and Men's U20's came 6th. In the 2005 Youth World Cup in Australia the Men's U20's defeated South Africa to win the bronze medal. In the 2007 World Cup in South Africa the Men's Opens team defeated Japan to win the bronze medal. Lebanon is currently ranked third in the world behind Australia and New Zealand.
Volleyball has some popularity in Lebanon where there is an amateur volleyball league. This team sport was introduced to Lebanon through foreign schools after the First World War in 1918. In the 1920s, it spreads widely in some schools, namely the Sacré Coeur, Al Makassed and La Sagesse and in some universities such as the Saint Joseph University (USJ) and the American University of Beirut (AUB). In 1973, the Lebanese government signed a sport's cooperation treaty with the USSR to have Soviet coaches train the Lebanese national volleyball team. Lebanon has competed in numerous international volleyball events. In 1952, Israel defeated Lebanon 3-0 and then lost to Lebanon 3-2 in the World Volleyball Championships in Moscow. Beach volleyball is also practiced in Lebanon.
Diving is a popular sport in Lebanon with interesting wrecks to explore. The air temperatures is above 70°F from May through October, which along with its unexplored waters along the 180 miles coastline, Lebanon has a lot to offer visiting divers.
- Wind surfing
Since the mid-20th century, weightlifting has been one of the biggest success stories for Lebanese athletes who have participated in numerous international competitions. In the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Mohamed Traboulsi won the silver medal, in addition to many gold medals in continental and regional championships and is considered one of the most revered athletes in Lebanon.
Lebanon boasts six ski resorts, with slopes suitable for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and levels of experience. Off-slope, there are many opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
- Boueri, Boutros, and Sayad. Lebanon A to Z: A Middle Eastern Mosaic, page 57
- Aikman, David. The Mirage of Peace: Understanding the Never-Ending Conflict in the Middle East, page 48
- Sheehan and Abdul Latif, Lebanon, page 116
- -Caraccioli, J., Caraccioli, T. and Mondale. Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games,
- Gall, Timothy L. Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life, page 634
- Carter, Dunston, and Thomas. Syria and Lebanon, page 296
- David, Gordon C. Lebanon, the Fragmented Nation, page 131
- Gulick, John. Tripoli: A Modern Arab City, page165
- Riordan, James. Sport in Soviet Society: Development of Sport and Physical, page 384
- Postal, Silver J., and Silver R. Encyclopedia of Jews in sports, page 346
- Gedeon and Bustros. Who's Who in Lebanon, 1995-1996: Volume 13
- Ham, Anthony. Middle East, page 451
- Aramco World Magazine: Volume 23; Volume 23
- "Sport in the USSR," Soviet Union magazine, 1974