Why not winning the Olympics is a good thing for Qatar

It is official, the only fencing you’ll be able to catch in Doha in 2020 will be around a World Cup stadium and not at an Olympics venue, assuming that they have started it by then.

On 23 May, the IOC once again rejected the city’s bid to hold the world’s biggest sporting event, despite being the outstanding candidate in terms of its ability to create the most advanced Games seen. The IOC may have got the reassurances it needed about the consequences of moving it to October but it wasn’t ready to gamble on a city that would still not have proved that it can deliver.

Did Qatar ever have a chance of winning the right to host the Olympics? I’m not sure. There are lots of pros of staging it, not least because of the most un-Olympian ideals of placing it in a TV-friendly and therefore lucrative time-zone.

But the IOC may have asked questions about the weather (yes, moving it to October would have been cooler and drier at the 90-degrees mark, but the IOC may have still  have recalled Beijing’s marathon was described as brutal at 88-degrees). They may have also worried about conflicts with one of the busiest times of the sporting calendar, including running up against the World Series in the US.

Personally I’m caught between regretting the IOC continuing with Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo and being relieved.

Having the Olympics then the World Cup would have been a monumentous (by coincidence a word was first used in 1896, the same year as the first modern Olympics Game) coupling for the region. Those already ecstatic at the boost for the region’s construction industry would have presumably gone into meltdown if the Games were coming too. Imagine the number of contracts, the machines needed… the glory!

However, the realist in me is glad that we can concentrate on the job in hand, draw marker pen over those pencilled in plans for the World Cup and get on with it. Maybe in four years time, when the rail is going down, the stadium foundations laid and a coherent plan for staging the World Cup is known and well-read, the IOC may think differently.

Winning the World Cup has proven to be a smokescreen and Doha has been exposed as having the financial clout but not yet the muscle needed on the international stage. I worry not though. Doha will get its turn, and even its admirable Olympic committee led by the Emir’s daughter know, that will come in 2022 when the first ball is kicked.


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