Doha digs in its heels as it watches 2032 Olympic bid slip away to Brisbane

Officials from the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) have vowed to continue pursuing a chance to host the 2032 Olympic Games even after Brisbane was last week named the preferred bidder for the event by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) all but guaranteeing that Australia will be awarded the quadrennial event for the third time.

(Image: Doha 2030 Asian Games)

According to a statement released by the QOC Friday, President Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani said “we are looking forward to continuing our dialogue with the Future Host Commission.”

“With the Games 11 years away, we hope to have the opportunity to discuss our plans with the Commission and develop our bid further, before a final decision is taken.”

IOC officials said the preemptive decision to exclusively pursue Brisbane was made at this moment to bring stability to the organization during uncertain times.  Organizers are currently struggling to stage the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games this summer followed by the Beijing 2022 Games only six months later.

Doha failed in bids for the Games in 2016 and 2020, both times denied positions on the shortlist due to climate concerns, namely the summertime heat in Qatar.  IOC rules mandate the Games be held in July or August.

Under new IOC rules being implemented for the Summer Games site selection for the first time, the Future Host Commission maintains a dialogue with interested bidders then selects a project it deems suitable for the next edition of the Games to engage in targeted dialogue that is designed to lead to the signing of the Host Contract.  Brisbane was put on that path last week and now only needs final approval from the Executive Board and a rubberstamping from IOC membership once the fine details are drawn out.

Summer Future Host Commission Chair Kristin Kloster Aasen held secret meetings in February with bidders involved in the continuous dialogue before offering Australia the sole opportunity to move forward.

QOC officials met with Kloster Aasen and her team on February 3 to review plans that Doha 2032 claim to be an excellent fit for the IOC’s needs.

The statement read “the QOC showcased how its bid is fully aligned with Qatar’s National Vision 2030 to advance Human, social, economic and environmental development through sport, and has the full support of the Qatar Government.”

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“The QOC is also exploring opportunities to use the Games to help spread the principles of Olympism beyond Qatar and further unite the Middle East region – a region that has never hosted the Games before.”

Last year Doha was awarded the 2030 Asian Games that will follow Qatar’s staging of the FIFA World Cup next year.  The tiny Gulf nation has much experience hosting major international events and organizers claim more than 80 percent of the required venues will already exist well ahead of the proposed 2032 Games, as well as the necessary transport infrastructure and accommodations.

“Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2032 remains our ultimate ambition,” the QOC president said.

“We have listened and learned from our two previous bids and humbly believe that we are now perfectly positioned to deliver a low-risk, sustainable and world-class edition of Games, which is perfectly aligned with Olympic Agenda 2020+5.”

Brisbane has planned a regional concept that will use many existing venues from across South-east Queensland, but it’s success is contingent on the development of new transport infrastructure.

Doha, Qatar

Doha, Qatar

The IOC did not make clear what advantages Australia had over Qatar’s bid, or over the other unnamed interested candidates including from Germany, Budapest in Hungary, Jakarta in Indonesia, Seoul and Pyongyang on the Korean Peninsula, China, India and potentially others.

In the new process that has been widely criticized for lacking transparency, IOC President Thomas Bach said last week that the IOC’s intention was to keep discussions with interested candidates and the details of their proposals private, and that it was up to the candidates themselves to communicate with the public.

Bach explained the IOC’s new emphasis on privacy to last week saying “you know there are also examples are from the business world or other sports events organizers where you avoid this kind of situation where one candidate is attacking another and ‘I’m better here and I’m better here and I’m the best.'”

“This was not the best procedure and neither for the future of the Games nor for the reputation of the IOC.”

But Doha 2032 has refused to give up, claiming they can deliver what the IOC needs.

“We are confident that in continuing our dialogue with the IOC we can demonstrate how the Games in Qatar would make history, delivering an unprecedented legacy for our region and the Olympic Movement,” Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad said.

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