The ANOC General Assembly concluded in Doha Friday with Qatar earning rave reviews for efficiently hosting the inaugural Beach Games at short notice.
The event was originally scheduled to be hosted by San Diego, but on May 30 it was announced that it was being relocated as the US city was unable to raise funds to the tune of $20mn.
ANOC said then the event would still take place in 2019 and would be awarded to another host city that has “the financial guarantees necessary and a proven track record to host a world-class event.”
It was here when Qatar stepped in, and on June 14 a formal announcement was made to that effect.
ANOC secretary general Gunilla Lindberg said the more than 1,200 athletes at the Games thoroughly enjoyed themselves in Qatar.
“They were happy with how the event was conducted. The accommodation provided to the athletes was impressive and the transportation between hotels and venues was also flawless,” the veteran Swedish IOC member said.
The athletes, representing 97 nations, were put up at four luxury high-rise apartments that constituted the Athletes Village.
She said people initially were not certain what to expect from the Games but started thronging the venues as they became more aware.
“I don’t think people were really aware of what they could expect, but the second, third and especially the last day there were big crowds everywhere,” Lindberg said.
“It takes time to introduce a new kind of competition and some of the sports were not very well known, but I think they are now.”
US beach volleyball gold medallist Casey Patterson was particularly impressed with Qatar.
“This country has been so inviting for us – maybe pushing the limit of the cultural balance with some of the sports,” said Patterson, a 2016 Olympian.
“For them to do that and run such a tight-knit event, I haven’t experienced anything like this that was done in such a short period of time.
“They can be very proud and we are honored to be a part of it.”
Meanwhile, ANOC secretary general Lindberg also said that based on the success of the inaugural Qatar edition, the future of the event appears bright.
“There are many countries that are coming up and are interested,” she said.
“I think around January or February we should be ready to announce the next edition or at least have documents from candidates coming with interest.”
“I think the format of the Games…it’s low budget, it’s not too complicated and the sports – we were working with the IOC – they have Olympic federations, but we have non-Olympic disciplines," Lindberg said.
“Maybe we add some sports, maybe we change some sports. There are many sports that could be coming.”