Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani (second right), vice-chairman of the Doha 2020 bid, Fahad Juma (right), Deputy CEO, Doha 2020 bid, Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah (second left), a four-time Olympian from Qatar, and swimmer Nada Arkaji, a member of the Doha 2020 team, are seen during a press briefing in Doha yesterday. PIC: SHAIVAL DALAL
Last week we had the honour to lead the Doha 2020 delegation to the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne to present our Applicant City file for hosting the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Only a few of us flew out to Switzerland. But in spirit, many more people were with us on that journey. They included:
• 82 percent of the people of Qatar who – before any promotion has begun – have already expressed their support for hosting the Games
• The leaders of every nation in the Gulf Cooperation Council who unanimously voted in favour of bringing the Games to Doha
• The members of every National Olympic Committee at the recent Arab Games, where a resolution was passed in support of Doha’s bid
Clearly, hosting the Games in Doha is a widely shared dream throughout Qatar and across the wider region.
And we are happy to say that the Qatar Olympic Committee is also a proud member of the Olympic Council of Asia since 1981.
In eight years’ time we hope to re-light the flame of inspiration as we welcome to Doha the greatest competition of all: the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We have already come a long way since we announced our intention to bid a few months ago.
First credit for that goes to the Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani for his vision and love of sport, and to His Highness the Heir Apparent, who chairs Doha 2020 and is President of the Qatar Olympic Committee.
We are also grateful for the strong support we have received from Government ministers and officials and sports leaders throughout Qatar.
We are grateful, as well, for the backing from some of Qatar’s leading private companies.
Many of the key figures who have been involved are with us today. To all of you, our deepest thanks. Because with your help, we believe Doha is on a journey towards greater things than ever before.
But what’s behind this passion to host the Games? There’s no denying that this is the greatest honour of staging the top sport event on Earth and of being the focal point of the sporting world. But there’s much more to our motivation than that. Our bid is all about legacy – for our nation, the region and the world.
Let’s start by talking about what’s essential to any meaningful bid: vision.
To host the Olympic and Paralympic Games is not only a great honour, it is an enormous responsibility. Doha is doing everything possible to deserve that honour. We have the determination – and the resources – to meet every responsibility.
What’s more, the timing is perfect.
Both Qatar and the Middle East are changing. Only a few decades ago, Doha was a small city built on a heritage of pearl fishing. Look at it today. And then consider what’s possible for tomorrow. Look what’s happening elsewhere in the Middle East.
A new generation is making connections across national boundaries to share their hopes for a better future.
Change is in the air.
We see Doha 2020 as a way to help channel all that energy into change for the better.
As Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games said: “The Olympic Movement gives the world an ideal which reckons with the reality of life, and includes a possibility to guide this reality toward the great Olympic Idea.”
Those words can be applied to the Middle East here and now. Which is how we came to devise the phrase that summarises Doha 2020:
This is true on many levels...
• The Games in Doha would help change the lifestyles of young people by encouraging a new interest in sports participation
• The Games in Doha would provide greater empowerment for women and girls through sport
• The Games in Doha would change the world’s perceptions of the region – and the region’s perceptions of the rest of the globe
Much of our investment in terms of transport, accommodation and other infrastructure is already underway as part of the wider Qatar National Vision 2030. But the benefits of our growth and our economic strength can and should go well beyond our nation and its capital.
Hosting the Games here in 2020 – the first Olympiad in the Middle East – would help build a better future for generations of girls and boys across many regions.
Doha 2020 would also bring the Olympic Movement new potential for growth both in sporting and commercial terms.
Doha 2020 would nurture the Games themselves throughout a changing region ready to be inspired by Olympic values.