UAE says has no immediate plan for Olympics bid

Olympic Committee senior exec says country is prepared for bid but is focusing on Expo 2020
(Getty Images)
By Andy Sambidge
Wed 04 Dec 2013 04:53 PM

The UAE has no immediate plans to bid for the Olympics, confirmed Shaima Al Zarooni, a senior executive board member on the UAE National Olympic Committee, was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

“Currently, we don’t see any interest from the leadership [regarding an Olympic bid]. We are more focused on Expo 2020 and on making the event a success,” she said in comments published by Gulf Business News.

She added that Dubai, which last week won the bid to host Expo 2020, was capable of holding the Olympics.

“We are certainly prepared; if we are capable of hosting Expo 2020, we are definitely prepared to host an Olympics," she said on the sidelines of the Host Cities conference in Dubai.

Jacques Rogge, the ex-International Olympics Committee(IOC) President who visited Dubai in 2010, previously said the country would be a capable host.

Tessa Jowell, who led the London 2012 Olympics bid team, added: "Expo 2020 might act as a stepping-stone if Dubai ever intends to bid for the Olympics.

“Hosting the expo will be a big boost to the profile of this city and whether that then translates into a World Cup or Olympic bid is obviously a consequence of that,” she said.

In 2011, The UAE said that it would likely bid for the 2024 Olympic Games after ruling out a bid for the event in 2020.

While a feasibility study into Dubai's capability for hosting the Olympic Games concluded that as much of 70 percent of the infrastructure was already in place or planned, it was decided a bid would be better timed for 2024.

Dubai crown prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, a senior figure in the plans to bring the Games to the UAE, said at the time: "Hosting the Olympic Games in the Middle East would be a dream come true for the entire region, and we fully intend to place a bid once I am totally satisfied that we are prepared to host the greatest sporting event in history in a way that would add value to the Olympic Movement itself, as well as the youth of the Arab World."

Dubai's strategy for sports was laid out by Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum in the early 1990s.

It focused on attracting world class sporting events to the region, with Dubai known now for hosting the well established Dubai World Cup, the Dubai Desert Classic and Ladies Masters (golf), the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, as well as the Emirates Airlines Rugby Sevens, FINA 25m Swimming Championships (2010), UIM Class 1 World Offshore Powerboat Championship, as well as the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.

In 2009, Sheikh Mohammed established a working group chaired by Sheikh Hamdan which commissioned a group of sport industry experts to assess sports facilities in Dubai.

This culminated in a feasibility study conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers and Populous to establish whether Dubai would be well placed to enter a bid for the 2020 Olympic Games or any future Games.

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