Why Doha should make the Olympic Games cut

February 20, 2012 - 8:48:57 pm

You’ve heard about the vision and aspiration of Doha 2020. Now I’m delighted to go through some of the Applicant File facts about delivering that vision: the reasons why our goal to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Doha is based on a solid foundation.

Let’s start with the most basic facts of all: The dates we have chosen for staging the Games if we were to be successful.

The Olympic Games Opening Ceremony would take place on October 2. The Games would close on October 18.

The opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games would be on November 4; the closing ceremony on November 15.

This ensures ideal weather conditions for athletes, media and spectators alike.

And our geographical location is good for the Games.

Our home audience would be drawn from a population expected to almost double to 3 million by 2020.

By then, the population of the Middle East and North Africa – known as the MENA region – will be over 700 million.

A total of 2.5 billion people are within 6 hours’ flying distance of Doha International Airport – already a global hub. Qatar Airways, the national carrier, currently links Doha to 115 international destinations. Nine new routes are being added this year.

The new airport, opening at the end of this year, will make flying into Qatar even easier. By 2017, it will handle 50 million passengers annually.

When athletes, the Olympic Family, media and spectators arrive for Doha 2020, that will pretty much be an end to their travelling – until it’s time to go home.

That’s because we’ve kept distances and Games travel times to a minimum. That’s one of the most distinctive things about Doha 2020’s Games plan.

For example, based on current travel times, on average it would take an athlete only 21 minutes to get from the Olympic Village to his or her competition venue – and that includes football preliminaries. The same is true for travel time from the Media Centre.

By 2020, with over $50bn worth of planned and budgeted transport improvements in place, we will reduce travel times even further. Such compact and accessible Games would benefit everyone.

• For the athletes, it means concentrating on competitive performance rather than travel logistics

• For spectators, it means the opportunity to enjoy more than one event a day in a vibrant Olympic atmosphere

• And for the media, it means easily getting to the heart of a story wherever it’s happening.

As for the even bigger audiences who stay at home, geography continues to an advantage for Doha’s.

Our location allows for prime time broadcasting to three billion people across Europe and the growth markets of Africa and Asia.

Geography has also blessed Qatar in terms of natural resources. On that solid foundation, we have built a thriving and diversified economy. That means we can guarantee delivery of everything that successful Olympic and Paralympic Games require in terms of facilities, infrastructure and technology. This brings other benefits as well.

Last year’s Global Peace Index Report ranked Qatar as one of the most peaceful countries in the world, ahead of places like Singapore and Switzerland.

So Doha is certainly safe and secure.

But it’s also lively.

That’s because Doha is the capital of a nation that’s young as well as prosperous. Almost 75 percent of Qatar’s population is under 39. Per capita gross domestic product – GDP – is one of the highest in the world. Out of our 32 competition sites, 35 percent are existing venues. They will host 14 out of 28 sports. Just over half – 56 percent -- of competition sites are already planned and budgeted for. This means that 91 percent of all sports venues are either existing or planned and budgeted for.  The remaining 9 percent of sports venues will be temporary.