Doha promises fan-friendly Olympics

February 20, 2012 - 11:03:33 pm


Qatar swimmer Nada Arkaji speaking at the Doha 2020 Applicant File presentation yesterday.


DOHA: ‘Applicant City’ Doha has promised to deliver a ‘fan friendly’ Olympic Games in 2020, pledging a women’s high performance centre aimed at attracting young girls in the Arab world to take up sport.

Giving details of Doha’s bid file submitted last week to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), top officials yesterday said the Qatari capital would step up and take lead in promoting women’s sports in the region.

Doha, host of the 2006 Asian Games, is competing against Madrid, Tokyo, Istanbul, Baku and Azerbaijan for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

“The Games in Doha would help change the lifestyles of young people by encouraging a new interest in sports participation,” Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, vice-chairman of the Doha 2020 bid, said. “The Games in Doha would also provide greater empowerment for women and girls through sport and change the world’s perceptions of the region — and the region’s perceptions of the rest of the globe,” he added.

Fahad Juma, Deputy CEO, Doha 2020 bid, said: “The legacy of Doha 2020 would have wider regional and even global benefits. One of the most important Doha 2020 legacies would be the creation of a women’s high performance training centre here in Doha. It would welcome women and girls from across the Arab world.”

Qatar’s young swimmer Nada Arkaji, who took part in the 2011 Arab Games in Doha, said: “At 17, sport has already changed my life. The prospect of the Olympic and Paralympic Games coming to Doha would inspire many more young people like me to take up sport, to know the thrill of competition, to become more than they ever thought they could be. That’s what Doha 2020 means to my generation and me.”

Sheikh Saoud said Qatar will send women athletes to the Olympics for the first time at the London Games to be held in July-August this year.

He said the IOC has offered Qatar wild card invitations for two female athletes to compete in London — swimmer Arkaji and sprinter Noor Al Malki. Sheikh Saoud added that the number of female athletes from Qatar could rise to four, pending qualifying events to be held in the coming weeks. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Brunei have never previously sent women athletes to an Olympics.