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Sports and Athletics Strategy

The Government of Qatar is committed to providing a strong cultural and sport foundation on which society well-being and integration is encouraged.

Physical activity is known to play an enriching role in the lives of those who participate, whether that be as a coach, volunteer, spectator, officiator, team or individual player.

In recent years Qatar, largely through the Qatar Olympic Committee, has made marked strides to improve access to and encourage sport and active living among its growing and diverse population. In January, 2011, Qatar hosted the Asian Football Confederation’s Asian Cup, and in 2022 will host the globally esteemed FIFA World Cup.

In line with putting Qatar athletes on the world map and seeing a vaster range of Qatari sport participants, the National Development Strategy 2011-2016 has defined three sport and athletic initiatives on which to focus in the coming years:

  • Public health and sport campaigns
  • Developing increased sports facilities
  • Promoting athletic development and excellence

Public Health and Sport Campaigns

Following a 2007 review by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education of the physical education curriculum and related activities in independent schools and centers, physical education was made compulsory for all students from kindergarten to Grade 12. Two years later the Qatar Olympic Committee conducted a similar study among women and found that only 15% of Qatari females aged 15 or older participated in any form of sport.

Sedentary, inactive lifestyles are major players in the onset and effect of chronic disease, which as of 2008 accounted for nearly half of the deaths in Qatar. Studies have ascertained that 39% of the population is overweight, 32% is obese, and 37% of males are smokers. More than 50% of Qataris do not engage in regular physical activity. Most Qataris are unaware of the effect this will have on their health.

To address these concerning statistics all sectors of the government intend to work together to encourage and provide the following:

  • Increased youth programs to encourage sport participation – this will include the implementation of a national sports curriculum; certification and ongoing professional development for teachers; development of curriculum support materials, including specific guidelines on the encouragement of students with disabilities; and the development of a monitoring and evaluation system.
  • Healthy lifestyle interventions – an in-depth sports participation survey will be conducted from which to develop promotional strategy; the Active Qatar Campaign will in turn educate and advocate the benefits of healthy lifestyle within the community.

Developing Increased Sports Facilities

Since 2004, a national infrastructure-building program has been in place, equipping the country with more competition fields, neighborhood playgrounds and cultural centers. 

Though all sports facilities owned by the Qatar Olympic Committee and Aspire are open to the public, their accessibility varies. The government intends to conduct a national audit of the currently available facilities to surmise where they are lacking, where private or school facilities can be better shared with the public and, if necessary, to implement a plan to find lands amid the construction boom on which new environmentally sustainable and accessible facilities can be built. 

Promoting Athletic Development and Excellence

Inspiration comes not only from curriculum and facility, but also in the national athletic heroes that youth can look up to. Qatar aims to increase its presence at regional and international competitions with sportive role models that Qataris can be proud of. 

Qatar’s first Olympic presence was made at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics with a team of 17 athletes. Eight years later that team grew to 31 and Qatar won its first medal in Barcelona, 1992. Since 1986 Qatar has been the top performer among the Gulf Cooperation Council countries participant in the Asian Games.

Qatar intends to support this rising trend with the provision of early training to advance, elite level athletic support. The Qatar Olympic Committee and Aspire will work together to develop a national database that tracks athletic talents and defines protocol in each sportive category. Increased opportunities will be provided to female athletes and athletes with special needs and/or disabilities. Strategy for increasing coaching and technical human resources will also be developed.

A physically active, sportive society fosters many beneficial links and outcomes. The government wishes to advocate the benefit sport has on virtually all other societal sectors, including health, family cohesion, female empowerment, education, environment, productivity at work, tourism and economic growth. An active, healthy Qatari population equates an active, healthy Qatar.

For more information on sports development, visit Qatar Olympic Committee's website.