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Doha 2020 bid panel unveils Games plans

Date: Feb 21, 2012
Category: News

The Doha 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games Bid Committee unveiled its plans to host an accessible, “fan-friendly” Games, with a focus on utilising existing and planned sports venues and seeking to develop a long-term legacy for the country and the region.

At a meeting of key stakeholders and members of the press, Fahad Juma, Doha 2020’s Deputy CEO, Technical Bid and Project Management, announced that the planned opening ceremony for the 2020 Olympic Games would be on October 2, with the closing ceremony on October 18.

The Paralympics will be held from November 4 to 15, ensuring ideal weather conditions for athletes, spectators and media.

Juma called Qatar’s geographical location “ideal”, with a domestic population set to reach almost 3mn  by 2020, a Mena population of over 700mn and around 2.5bn people within six hours flying distance of Doha International Airport. Qatar Airways currently reaches 115 destinations with 90 new routes being added this year, and by 2017 the new airport will be able to accommodate 50mn passengers a year.

Within Doha, minimal travel time is one of the distinctive features of the 2020 bid. Athletes will take only 21 minutes to get from the Olympic Village to their venue, which is also true for the media. By 2020, over $50bn will have been invested in transport infrastructure, with the $21bn metro linking 78% of sports venues.

Juma said that for the athletes, this meant that they could concentrate on the competition, and for spectators it meant that they “can enjoy more than one event in a day in a vibrant Olympic atmosphere”.

“For audiences who stay at home, geography continues to be an advantage for Doha’s bid. Our location allows for primetime broadcasting to three billion people across Europe, and the growth markets of Africa and Asia. ”

He also said that Qatar’s natural resources provided the means to achieve all the necessary goals to make the Olympics a success, including facilities, infrastructure and technology.

One of Qatar’s selling points is that it is a safe and peaceful country with a young population. Almost 75% of Qatar’s population is under the age of 39.

Juma said that as sport formed an integral part of Qatar’s 2030 vision, most of the venues and infrastructure necessary for an Olympic event were already planned and budgeted for.

Out of the 32 competition sites, 35% are existing venues, hosting 14 out of the 28 sports, while 56% of competition sites are already planned and budgeted for. The remaining 9% of sports venues will be temporary.

Juma said that the five sports zones across Doha were inspired by the Olympic rings.

The central zone will be at Qatar University, which will accommodate the Olympic Village with most of the athlete training sites and the main media centre. The Doha Olympic Park, north of Qatar University, will be the setting for the opening and closing ceremonies in the new Lusail National Stadium, and will host a range of sports including archery and aquatics. Aspire Zone will be the home of athletics as well as boxing and water polo.

Education City will be home to equestrian events and football preliminaries. The Watar Park Zone, near the current airport, will accommodate to sports such as marathon swimming and sailing.

In order to ensure that the games are affordable and accessible for spectators, over 3mn tickets will be on sale for less than $25, with 10 celebration sites throughout the city bringing together non-competing athletes, spectators and their families. About 60,000 rooms will be available at a wide range of prices, with 50,000 rooms within 15km of the majority of Games venues.

The long-term legacy of the games will include the development of an Olympic Park which will be the first phase of a much larger green belt that will eventually surround the city.

At Qatar University, the Olympic Village and Main Media Centre will become new accommodation for students and academic staff, as well as a world-class technology centre.

“But most of the legacy of Doha 2020 would have wider regional and even global benefits,” said Juma. “One of the most important Doha 2020 legacies would be the creation of a women’s high performance training centre  in Doha.  It would welcome women and girls from across the Arab world. Similarly, hosting the Paralympic Games in Doha would put new emphasis on the benefits of inclusion throughout the region. So will be the availability of state-of-the art training and competition facilities. For instance, the velodrome we’re building will be the first in the Middle East to meet Olympic standards,” he added.

“But the greatest legacy that a Doha Games can offer is intangible. Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Movement, expressed it perfectly when he said the Olympic Games: ‘...will little by little dissipate the ignorance in which people live with respect to others...’ We’re confident that Doha 2020 would advance that objective here in the Middle East and around the world,” added Juma.

Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, general secretary of the Qatar Olympic Committee and Doha 2020 vice chairman, said that 82% of the people of Qatar expressed their support for hosting the Games before promotion had even begun. He also said that the leaders of every nation in the Gulf Co-operation Council unanimously voted in favour of bringing the Games to Doha, as did the members of every National Olympic Committee at the recent Arab Games, where a resolution was passed in support of Doha’s bid.

Sheikh Saoud sees Doha 2020 as a way to channel the energy of the region’s population to help change the lifestyles of young people by encouraging a new interest in sports participation. He also expects the Games to provide greater empowerment for women and girls through sport and to change the world’s perceptions of the region and the region’s perceptions of the rest of the globe.