Despite a troubled global sporting calendar wrecked by the coronavirus pandemic, Qatar are pulling out all stops in their bid to host the 2030 Asian Games.
With global sport half-heartedly but cautiously pushing on with Covid-19 precautions aforethought, Doha at the weekend hosted important site visits by Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Evaluation Committee officials.
The Doha 2030 delegation is headed by Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani with Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani as the vice chairperson. The latter is also CEO of the Qatar Foundation.
Since Qatar hosted the Asian Games for the first time in 2006, sport in the country has progressed significantly with organisers saying this has contributed to “positive social change.”
Doha has since successfully hosted major championships, including the World Athletics Championships last year with Qatar also having won the rights to host the next Fifa World Cup finals in 2022.
Besides Doha, Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) is also bidding for the 21st Asian Games in 2030, with Qatar’s Fifa World Cup programme and infrastructure a huge advantage in their bid for the continental competition.
The deadline for submission of bids was October 4 this year.
“Team Qatar” officials and youth athletes from across multiple Asian Games sport joined members of the OCA Evaluation Committee for the final day of the Doha 2030 Asian Games Bid Committee visit on Saturday.
Established Olympians and young athletes, including Amal Mohammed (basketball), Afaf Alqarni (boxing), Hannah Albadr (handball), Abdulaziz Mohammed (athletics), Maha falamarzi (table tennis) and Nada Mohammed Wafa (swimming), were among those to join the weekend tour of the National Museum of Qatar.
“On the tour, the athletes demonstrated their passion for sport and explained the important role sport plays in their daily lives and the lives of people across Qatar,” a statement from the Qatar bid team on Saturday said.
“It was our honour to join the OCA Evaluation Committee on their tour today and discuss our support for Doha 2030,” Qatar’s Olympic swimmer at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Nada Mohammed Wafa, said.
“As athletes we understand the role we play in inspiring young girls and boys around the country. Sport, and particularly female sport, has grown dramatically in Qatar in recent years and is now stronger than ever.
“We have so many talented young athletes who have been inspired by previous generations and they themselves are now inspiring others to push themselves and reimagine the future for our country. Hosting the Asian Games in Doha in 2030, would only strengthen this process.
“But more than that, Doha 2030 would ensure that the Games inspires new generations throughout Asia and supports the development of Asian sport over the next 10 years and beyond.”
More than sport
The successful bid for the 2030 Asian Games will be announced at the 39th OCA General Assembly in Muscat, Oman, on December 16.
Bidding for the 2030 Asian Games is seen as more than merely sport, with Qatar and Saudi Arabia having endured frosty socio-economic and political relationships in recent times.
Saudi Arabia was among the Gulf nations that severed political and economic ties with Doha in 2017, accusing Qatar of aiding terrorism.
Doha denied the allegations, instead claiming its neighbours were out to undermine its independence.
The last Asian Games were held in Jakarta-Palembang, Indonesia, in 2018.
China have won the overall title in the last 10 editions of the games which are now held after every four years.
China’s Hangzhou City will host the next edition in 2022 with Aichi-Nagoya, Japan, hosting the 2026 games.