*Olympic Council of Asia’s Evaluation Committee concludes visit to Qatar
Qatar’s wealth of experience as a host of major international events, its state-of-the-art infrastructure and its impressive sustainability and legacy initiatives should make Doha the clear favourite in the race to host the Asian Games in 2030.
That was the essential takeaway from the observations of the Olympic Council of Asia’s Evaluation Committee which concluded their three-day visit to Qatar on Friday culminating in a press conference, where Andrey Kryukov, the delegation’s chief, said he was pleased with the passion and enthusiasm displayed for Doha’s bid.
The committee took notice of the fact how highly sport is placed in Qatar’s grand scheme of things as the country maps out its future as a major player in all fields of human endeavour thereby contributing to world peace and prosperity.
“We listened to the plans of the Doha 2030 Bid Committee and the city’s capability and readiness to host the event,” said Kryukov, who represented Kazakhstan in figure skating at the Winter Olympics and is now the general secretary of his country’s National Olympic Committee.
“We are pleased with the enthusiasm shown by the youth and the general public of the country and also the involvement of the national leaders, the private sector and the leadership of the sports federations.
“I thank His Highness the Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for his support for the development of sport,” he said in his opening remarks.
He also praised Her Highness Sheikh Moza bint Nasser, the Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, for her involvement in various national and international initiatives, especially those related to sustainable progress and development.
“The Evaluation Committee noted with great satisfaction that the Asian Games Doha 2030 project is built on the legacy of the 2006 Asian Games and fully integrated as a part of the national plan for sustainable development which is part of the Qatar National Vision 2030. It raises the importance of the Games to a new level,” added Kryukov.
“The LOC and the bid committee did a massive job and presented a comprehensive plan for preparation and operation of the Asian Games. The committee is satisfied with what we saw and believes that Doha’s existing infrastructure and sustainable concept will help in hosting a successful Games in 2030. We wish the bidding committee all the best.”
When asked if it was prudent for nations to spend massive amounts of money on sports when economies are stressed due to the coronavirus crisis, Kryukov said Qatar, especially, needn’t worry on that front because most of its infrastructure is in place and only operational expenses need to be taken care of.
“Doha is building on the 2006 Asian Games legacy and its existing sports infrastructure and other infrastructure like transport and medical facilities. The foundation built by your people here in this country has accumulated knowledge and it's transferred now to other generations.
“We know in Qatar sport is one of the top priorities. During this time of Covid-19, sport is mainly a booster for civilization for all countries and it can help re-install the economy. It is an important mode of communication for relationships between countries.
“Doha’s 2030 budget is mostly based on the operational cost because there is an existing infrastructure. We don’t expect Covid will seriously affect Doha’s bid.”
Kryukov said he was impressed by the measures Qatar’s sports authorities have adopted to ensure that the athletes are protected from coronavirus infection.
“We went to various stadiums and saw athletes playing and practising under strict health protocols. It made a very positive impression on us.”
The inevitable question about which city impressed the committee most also cropped up, forcing Kryukov into a smile.
“You know, our mandate is not to do public assessment now. We're not finished yet. We are yet to complete our report, and that's you can't compare now publicly. Each nation’s bid has its own advantages and challenges.
“As we stated today, I think we know what Doha can offer as Asian Games host. But we need to analyse more and our report will be published in the General Assembly in December. We are not finished because we have a lot of documents and figures which must go through.
“What I would like to emphasise is the passion of the nation and its people is important for every bid. And we believe any nation, whenever they are bidding for any event they have the support and passion of their people.”
He said he could gauge the enthusiasm of the country from a discussion he had with top corporate executives in Qatar.
“We had a good discussion with the Ooredoo company’s CEO. We listened to some statistics and the development plan, which was very interesting. The next 10 year period is very long. During that time, even technologies which are new now, let's say like 5G in 10 years it will already be 6G.
“That's why it's important for any country to move with the same speed with technology, not to be behind the curve of progress. Qatar has always demonstrated good will and confidence in embracing new technology. It was an impressive discussion yesterday.”
For his part, Doha 2030 CEO HE Jassim bin Rashid al-Buenain said Qatar will be providing the best of facilities to the athletes if Doha gets to host the event.
“Athletes can be assured of very top conditions to train and compete. Doha 2030 is already a gateway to a legacy as of now, not in 10 years. That means, if we to win the bid, the (legacy) programme will start in 2021 and we will call it 21 Project Legacy. Altogether, it means that Doha 2030 is a gateway to bright future for sport in Asia.”
He also stressed on the security factor, saying Qatar is one of the safest countries in the world.
“As everyone knows, Qatar has the first rank in the Mena region in the Global Peace Index and Qatar has diversity of population with people from more than 90 nations living here peacefully with different cultures and faith.
“Our country is significantly supporting all the sectors in order to secure access of hosting sports and non-sporting events.”