Al Gharafa players celebrate with the trophy after winning their Emir Cup football final against Al Sadd at Khalifa Stadium in this May 2012 file photo. Al Gharafa won 4-3 in penalties. RIGHT: Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Secretary-General of Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC), and Australian swimming legend and five-time Olympic champion Ian Thorpe (right) are seen with children on the Corniche in this February 14, 2013 file photo on National Sport Day (NSD). A wide range of sporting activities took place as NSD programme aimed to encourage the public to obtain a healthy lifestyle and be physically fit. The QOC opened sports clubs and facilities for the public to enjoy the sporting activities.
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: With an emphasis on encouraging the youth to embrace sports as a way of life, the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) yesterday confirmed it will host an astonishing 81 events in the new season beginning next month.
The sports calendar has added 32 new events, according to details released by QOC.
The increase in the number of sports events to be held in the coming 12 months is part of QOC’s ambitious plans to reach a figure of at least 50 international championships by 2020.
Qatar, who also nurture ambitions of bringing the Olympic Games to the Middle East, will open the 2013-2014 home season by hosting the opening round of the MotoGP calendar at Losail International Circuit on April 7.
The MotoGP Grand Prix of Qatar will be the first of 40 international sports events in Qatar, QOC confirmed in a statement yesterday.
In the corresponding week, the Qatar Sailing and Rowing Federation (QSRF) will host the Qatar Match Racing Championship scheduled to be held from April 9 to 13.
In the third week of April, the Qatar Tennis Federation (QTF) will stage the Davis Cup matches from April 15 to 22 at Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.
Overall, sports fans in Doha will get to witness 11 Asian championships, 11 local events and eight Arab tournaments.
According to the QOC statement yesterday, four sports conferences will also be held in the new season.
Last August at the Olympic Games in London, Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Secretary General, QOC, clearly underlined Qatar’s bold plans to add new events to the regular sports calendar.
“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 said at the time.
“We are seriously targeting to increase this number (35) to 50 international events by the year 2020,” he added. “It is possible and we will do it,” he said.
Sheikh Saoud said the attempt 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.
In May this year, the Qatar Athletics Federation (QAF) will organise the IAAF Samsung Diamond League 2013 leg at Qatar Sports Club.
The one-day track and field event will be held on May 10 when star participant Yohan Blake of Jamaica will run the 100m final.
A month later, the Qatar Handball Association (QHA) will host the Qatar International Youth Handball Championship from June 17 to 22 at Al Gharafa Indoor Hall.
The QHA will stage the Qatar International Junior Handball Championship from June 24 to 28 at the same venue, QOC said.
Soon after Ramadan, the Holy month of fasting, QHA will host IHF Handball Super Globe 2013 – an event for the world’s top clubs at Al Gharafa Indoor Hall from August 27 to September 1.
Similarly, the Qatar Billiard and Snooker Federation (QBSF) will host World 9-ball championship in Doha from September 2 to 12.
Qatar Karate Federation (QKF) will host the 2nd Qatar International Karate Championship from October 25 to 26 while the Qatar Equestrian Federation (QEF) will organise the Qatar International Equestrian Championship in November.
The Qatar Squash Federation (QSF) will stage the Qatar Classic (November 8-15) while Qatar Swimming Association (QSA) are confirmed hosts of the Qatar International Swimming Championship (November 14 to 16).
At the start of 2014, the Qatar Golf Association (QGA) will welcome the region’s best for the Qatar International Open Golf Championship at Doha Golf Club (DGC) from January 10 to 11 while Qatar Fencing Federation (QFF) will host the Qatar Men’s Fencing Grand Prix 2014 and Women World Cup 2014 from January 18 to 21 at Aspire Zone.
From January 22 to 26, 2014, the QGA will assemble the world’s top golfers for the Qatar Masters at the picturesque DGC.
At the Asian level this year, the Qatar sports calender is just as busy with several sport championships and competitions including AFC Asian Football Championship (women U-14) to be organised by Qatar Women Sport Committee (QWSC) at the Aspire Done from April 1 to 3, 2013.
The West Asian Chess Championship will be held from May 3 to 12 while the Asian 3x3 Men’s Basketball Championship is set to be organized from May 15 to 16.
At the Arab level, the Doha sports calendar is packed with several championships including Arab Athletics Championships (May 21-24); Arab Weightlifting Championship (All categories) from May 26 until June 2; Arab Wrestling Championship from June 1 to 4 and Arab Junior Fencing Championship (men and women) from July 1 to 6.
Volleyball, beachball, gymnastics and karate are also listed on the calendar of events.
At the GCC level, the QOC sports calender contains several championships including GCC Squash Championship (U-17) scheduled for April 2-7, 2013 and to be held at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex; the GCC Athletics Championship (men and Juniors) which will run from April 8 to 10 and the 4th GCC Taekondwo Championship (May 2-5).
Multiple championships in futsal, table tennis, judo, fencing and volleyball were also confirmed by QOC yesterday.
At the local level, Qatar 2013-2014 calendar is packed with multiple activities and events including the hugely popular Schools Olympic Program (SOP) jointly organised by QOC and the Supreme Education Council.
In the coming two months, the Qatar Volleyball Association (QVA) will organise the Heir Apparent Cup final at Al Arabi Sport Club while the Qatar Paralympic Committee (QPC) will stage the Entertainment Day for People with Special Needs at Qatar Sports Club (April 2013). In local basketball competitions, Qatar Basketball Federation (QBF) will organise the Emir Cup final on April 19 while the Qatar Football Association (QFA) will stage the Heir Apparent Cup final on May 4. The country’s most popular football gathering - the Emir Cup final - will be held in May (date not confirmed), at Khalifa Stadium.
QHA will organise the Heir Apparent Cup final on May 19 this year and the Emir Cup title clash final on May 30. Both these events will be staged at Al Gharafa Indoor Hall.
Also yesterday, QOC confirmed it will organise the Olympic Day on December 12 this year and the Qatar National Sport Day (NSD) in February 2014.
Qatar also is due to host a number of conferences during the coming sports season.
Among those confirmed include 2nd GCC Conference on Sport and Environment (to be organised by QOC from October 22 to 24) at Sheraton Hotel.
The Aspire Zone will host two gatherings: Aspire4Sport Conference (November 22 to 18, 2013) and Doha Goals Forum (December 9 to 11, 2013).