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Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Vice-Chairman of the Doha 2020 bid, addresses the media in Doha yesterday. Top officials representing Doha’s 2020 Olympic Games bid revealed details of the bid file submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: Taking a leaf out of its successful 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, Doha is aiming to inspire the next generation of athletes by aiming to bring the Olympic Games to the Middle East for the first time in 2020.
Doha has proposed holding the Olympics in October - a major departure from past trends of the Games being held in June and July - to tackle the heat factor using the country’s unparallelled sports infrastructure, most of which already exists.
While disclosing details of the bid file that was submitted last week to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Vice-Chairman of the Doha 2020 bid, said the Qatari capital was confident of inspiring change in the region by connecting with youth in the Arab world by staging the Summer Games in 2020.
Doha is competing against Madrid, Tokyo, Istanbul, Baku and Azerbaijan.
“Our bid is all about legacy – for our nation, the region and the world,” Sheikh Saoud told a large gathering of local and international media.
“To host the Olympic and Paralympic Games is not only a great honour, it is an enormous responsibility. We have the determination – and the resources – to meet every responsibility,” he added.
“Look what’s happening elsewhere in the Middle East. A new generation is making connections across national boundaries to share their hopes for a better future. Change is in the air. We see Doha 2020 as a way to help channel all that energy into change for the better,” Sheikh explained.
“The Games in Doha would help change the lifestyles of young people by encouraging a new interest in sports participation. The Games in Doha would also provide greater empowerment for women and girls through sport and change the world’s perceptions of the region – and the region’s perceptions of the rest of the globe,” Sheikh Saoud said.
Sheikh Saoud said Doha is relying on its favourable geographical location, rich past history in hosting sports events on a grand scale, dynamic Games concepts untried before and complete government backing to win the race for the 2020 Games.
“Doha is within six hours’ flying time for over 2.5 billion potential spectators,” Fahad Juma, Deputy CEO, Doha 2020 bid, said.
“Doha is also targetting live prime time broadcasting to around three billion people across Europe, Africa and Asia,” he added.
“If we were to win the Games bid, the opening ceremony of the Olympics Games would take place on October 2. The Games would close on October 18. The opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games would be on November 4 while the closing ceremony would be on November 15. This ensures ideal weather conditions for athletes, media and spectators alike,” Juma added.
“A total of 2.5 billion people are within 6 hours’ flying distance of Doha International Airport – already a global hub. Qatar Airways, the national carrier, currently links Doha to 115 international destinations. Nine new routes are being added this year. The new airport, opening at the end of this year, will make flying into Qatar even easier. By 2017, it will handle 50 million passengers annually.
“When athletes, the Olympic Family, media and spectators arrive for Doha 2020, that will pretty much be an end to their travelling – until it’s time to go home,” he said.
“As for the even bigger audiences who stay at home, geography continues to be an advantage for Doha. Our location allows for prime time broadcasting to three billion people across Europe and the growth markets of Africa and Asia.
“Geography has also blessed Qatar in terms of natural resources. On that solid foundation, we have built a thriving and diversified economy.
“That means we can guarantee delivery of everything that a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games require in terms of facilities, infrastructure and technology. This brings other benefits as well,” Juma said.
Host of the 2006 Asian Games, Doha is home to Aspire Academy, the world’s largest indoor sports facility. A few kilometers out of Doha is the state-of-the-art Losail International Circuit, venue of the only night race on the MotoGP calendar.
The Qatari capital also houses one of the most picturesque courses on the European Tour, the Doha Golf Club.
“Eighty-two percent of the people of Qatar who – before any promotion has begun – have already expressed their support for hosting the Games. The leaders of every nation in the Gulf Cooperation Council unanimously voted in favour of bringing the Games to Doha. Clearly, hosting the Games in Doha is a widely shared dream,” Juma said.
“But most of the legacy of Doha 2020 would have wider regional and even global benefits.
“One of the most important Doha 2020 legacies would be the creation of a women’s high performance training centre here in Doha. It would welcome women and girls from across the Arab world,” he added.
“We want to inspire change, create sporting and commercial opportunities for the Olympic Movement and build bridges of understanding between the region and the international community.”
The IOC will select Candidate Cities on May 23, 2012.
The host city will be elected in Buenos Aires on September 7, 2013, at the 125th IOC Session.