Posted on August 06, 2016

Team Qatar has savoured an historic sporting moment as the largest team to ever represent the nation in the Olympic Games joined in celebration for the official Opening Ceremony of Rio 2016.

The team which consists of 38 athletes across ten sports was proudly led by acclaimed Equestrian team member and showjumper Sheikh Ali Khalid Al-Thani who was bestowed the honour of being the nation’s flagbearer by the Qatar Olympic Committee. 

Inspirational flagbearer Sheikh Ali Khalid Al-Thani was welcomed by fans and officials into the legendary Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro alongside fellow athletes including skeet shooting bronze medallist from London 2012 Nasser Al-Attiyah and teammate Rashed Hamad, swimmers Noah Al-Khulaifi, Nada Arakji, handball team captain Abdulrazzaq Ahmed Murad and teammates, the beach volleyball team, weightlifter Fares Hassouna and judo athlete Morad Zemouri.

Speaking following the Opening Ceremony His Excellency Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, President of the Qatar Olympic Committee said: “Each step taken by our athletes tonight on the greatest sporting stage of all represents a proud and important step forward for Qatar. As millions watch on I am filled with huge pride to witness the largest team in Qatar’s Olympic history take its place alongside the leading sports nations of the world. “Qatar’s athletes are fulfilling our country’s promise and commitment to sport and the Olympic values. After years of hard work and preparation I’m confident new Qatari role models will emerge and grasp their opportunity to inspire the next generation of athletes of our nation. I urge every Qatari to join Team Qatar through our campaign #YallaQatar as all our athletes need to feel your support.”        

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On a spectacular opening night in Rio, Qatar’s incredible sporting progress was evident to all. Rio 2016 marks a significant milestone with athletes representing Qatar in the Olympics for the very first time in handball, beach volleyball, weightlifting, judo and boxing.

His Excellency Dr. Thani Abdulrahman Al Kuwari, Secretary General of Qatar Olympic Committee added: “Our vision to become a leading nation in bringing the world together through sustainable development in sport is clearly becoming a reality. In Rio 2016, Qatar will add five new sports to our Olympic achievements. That is a huge statement and proves we have truly developed a pathway for our athletes to compete at the highest level.  Competing in any Olympics in any sport represents success and we expect that success to grow and develop with our experience over the next two weeks. Qatar’s sporting future burns as bright as the Olympic torch lit here tonight.” 

 The first athletes to taste Olympic action in Rio are swimmers Noah Al-Khulaifi and Nada Arakji who will compete in first round heats at the Maria Lenk Aquatic centre. Arakji the first Qatari female to participate in two Olympic Games following her debut in London 2012 will swim on Saturday in the 100m butterfly with seventeen years old Noah Al-Khulaifi experiencing the Olympics for the first time on Sunday in the 100m backstroke. First day action on Saturday in Rio also awaits boxer Hakan Erseker in the 60kg category and table-tennis player Li Ping, and the beach volleyball team.    

Qatar’s sporting heroes will hope to live up to the impact that Bayt Qatar has had in Brazil and on the people of Rio. Following a memorable opening which included International Olympic Committee members, International Federation Presidents and National Olympic Committee Presidents and sporting superstars, Qatar Olympic Committee’s hospitality house is now sold out to public visitors for the first four days.   Created to welcome people from around the world to share Qatar’s unique culture, its warm hospitality and passion for the Olympic Movement, Casa Daros, an iconic former museum at a historical heritage site in Botafogo has proved a stunning hit with locals and tourists alike.

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