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Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani (right), Secretary General of Qatar Olympic Committee during a Q&A session of Aspire4Sports Congress at Aspire Dome yesterday. Sheikh Saoud said that Qatar are aiming to host 50 international sporting events. Abdul Rahman Abdulla Hassan Al Maliki, Director of Engineering, is also seen.
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: Qatar, host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, is targeting an unprecedented tally of 50 international sports events in the next few years, Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has said.
Doha, the sports hub of the region, currently stages around 35 international events but that number would see a significant increase in less than a decade, Sheikh Saoud announced at Aspire4Sport conference.
A little over a month ago, Qatar won the rights to host the 2016 Road Cycling World Championships, another first for the country and the region.
“The events that we organise every year are (around) 35. Now I am talking about international events. There are scores of local events and leagues but I have not included those in this list,” Sheikh Saoud, Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC), said.
“We are seriously targetting to increase this number to 50 international events by the year 2020,” he added.
“‘It’s possible and we will do it,” he said.
Sheikh Saoud said the intention to increase the events was part of an ambitious plan to encourage the youth to embrace the sporting culture.
“We set this target when we were building the infrastructure for the Asian Games (held in Doha in 2006),” Sheikh Saoud said.
He said Qatar’s bold ambitions would be a reality in due course of time. “We have the facilities to work on this target of ours. We are also mindful of the fact that we don’t want white elephants. We are loking at facilities that can be sustained even after we are done with international events or championships,” Sheikh Saoud explained.
The QOC official said hosting international events intertwines various segments of the sports industry and with a robust economy, Qatar would attract more than just sports personalities to the country.
“That’s our goal, 50 international events in Qatar by 2020. Why I am highlighting this because for all such endeavors we would need soft services in various areas of the sports industry. I am talking about the services that go hand-in-hand with the sports events that we host or plan to host,” Sheikh Saoud said.
“We see the potential. We are aiming to go beyond that but our goal now is 50 events. If you look on our (QOC) website, click on the calendar tab and you will see 35 events listed (there),” he said.
He said Qatar is clear on ‘going green’ on its sports stadiums and with events that it stages in the coming decade or so.
“We get a feel of the legacy behind the Games or events. We have to look at whether the venues we use (in Qatar) would be sustainable after an event or not. This is a very good area that we want to focus on (sustainbility of sports venues).
“In Qatar, many of the facilities built in the country are looked at with a green initiative. We are also looking at the cost of maintenance.
“We are clearly looking at green stadiums to protect the environment. We are careful about the material we use in the construction of these venues,” Sheikh Saoud added.
The QOC official said Qatar had already started preparing for the 2015 World Handball Championships.
“We have already started building venues for the 2015 World Handball Championships. One of the venues for that event will have a capacity of 16,000 fans and the second venue will house 7,000 people. And these will be indoor venues with air conditioning inside,” he said.
Sheikh Saoud quickly dispelled the notion that Qatar would struggle to host or accommodate a large number of sports fans or visitors to the country when they hosts top events.
“Speaking about Qatar’s capacity to house large crowds, I would like to say that we have been working on the development of infrastructure of sports events and the manner in which we play hosts to large crowds. We have been working on this aspect for the last 10 years.
“I think the advantageous geographical location of Qatar is the key. Doha can easily connect to the rest of the world, east of west. This is to our advantange. Recently, we have had the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships which attracted huge crowds to the venue and tourists from across the world.
“Now I agree that an athletics event does not compare to an event like the Olympic Games or the FIFA World Cup. For the sheer size of these events we can’t compare a smaller event to Olympic Games or the FIFA World Cup.
“We know the challenge (facing us). But I feel putting (together) different ideas, we can reach safe, reliable solutions. We have given the football world the option of watching more than one game during the FIFA World Cup in 2022. That’s because the travel time from venue to another won’t exceed an hour when we set up our metro system,” Sheikh Saoud said.
Today is the last day of the four-day Congress. THE PENINSULA