Twelve years after it won the bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, Qatar's moment to shine is finally here. Over the next 29 days, Qatar’s gleaming, eight magnificent architectural venues and the country’s world class infrastructure will welcome fans from all parts of the world for the football extravaganza.
Fittingly, it will be Qatar players who will walk into the Al Bayt stadium – a 60,000-seat venue meant to resemble a tent historically used by nomadic people in Qatar – to take on Ecuador in the opening game. Before that, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani will declare the tournament open after the opening ceremony, which promises to be both spectacular and a mix of entertainment and display of Qatar’s rich cultural heritage. A number of heads of states and heads of delegations of brotherly and friendly countries will be present.
The opening ceremony is scheduled to begin at 5pm, with the Qatar-Ecuador clash taking place two hours later. The gates to the Al Bayt Stadium will open at 2pm as the organisers urged the fans to reach the venue early to avoid the congestion.
The line-up of artists has been kept under wraps with only confirmation being Jungkook, one of seven members of South Korea's popular BTS boy band, set to perform a track titled "Dreamers" along with Qatari singer Fahad al-Kubaisi at the ceremony.
The celebrations, however, have already begun weeks ahead with the residents and fans from outside the country flocking Qatar’s important landmarks as they wait for the tournament to kick-start.
Organisers say that 2.9mn of the 3.1mn tickets have been sold, with a sell-out crowd expected Sunday. Also, it is estimated more than 5bn people around the world will watch the World Cup, surpassing the 3.5bn who tuned in to watch the 2018 tournament in Russia.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino Saturday called on teams to "focus on football" and accused critics in western countries of "hypocrisy" and “racism” towards Qatar.
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