Hosting Olympics as well as major continental and regional sports events will help diversify Qatar’s economy from the hydrocarbon sector which contributes on an average over half of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
HE Doha 2020 Olympic Bid Committee Vice Chairman and General Secretary of Qatar Olympic Committee Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani (pictured) told Qatar News Agency (QNA), “Top sports events like the 2020 edition of the Olympics will boost Qatar’s economy in a major way and help the process of diversifying it as laid out in the 2030 National Vision.”
Stressing inward bound sports tourism is not just limited to visitors buying stadium tickets to watch matches, Sheikh Saoud said, “A sports tourist visiting any country hosting a major sports events spends money in more areas than just venue tickets. Experience shows that sports fans spend money in 10 to 15 different retail outlets during their stay. There is definitely more to sports tourism than a visiting fan spending for ticketing, hotel accommodation and transportation.”
Sports tourism has great potential he said and added that “Qatar has had tremendous success over the last two decades staging top international events which has helped bring in tourists.”
Reiterating this Doha 2020 Technical Bid and Project Management Deputy Chief Executive Officer Fahad Juma, who Monday announced details of Doha’s Applicant File to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said, “There are many tangible benefits of hosting major sports events. But Doha 2020 Olympic bid is all about intangible benefits for the Middle East as whole and not just for Qatar.”
The key is all about the adding value to the Olympic Movement and the region’s further development, he said and added, “We are working to leave a lasting legacy through this event.”
A busy calendar punctuated by hosting top international sports tournaments back Qatar’s keenness to develop into a major sports hub in the Middle East. This year was the 20th anniversary of the ATP Men’s Qatar Open tennis tournament which has consistently featured players from the world top ten rankings.
Qatar celebrated the 10th anniversary of hosting the WTA Qatar Ladies Open tennis tournament which was won by top-ranked Victoria Azarenka of Belarus earlier this week. This year also marks the 15th editions of the PGA Qatar golf tournament as well as the IAAF Diamond League which regularly assembles the world leading golfers and athletes.
Among the major continental events, Qatar successfully hosted the 15th edition of the Asian Games in Doha in 2006. A year earlier, Qatar hosted the third West Asian Games which saw the participation of over 1,200 athletes from 13 nations.
Among the next major sports events Qatar has won the rights to host are World Handball Championships in 2015 and the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
“We are passionate about sports,” said Sheikh Saoud. “We have great plans and ambitions to responsibly host the Olympic and Para Olympic Games in 2020. The Aspire Torch symbolises the ideals of the Olympic Movement laid down by its founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin. In eight years time we hope to reignite the Olympic flame here.”
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