By Elizabeth Broomhall
Tiny Gulf emirate shrugs off latest 2022 criticism to press ahead with Olympics bid
Qatar plans to press ahead with its bid to host the Olympic Games in 2020 amid renewed criticism over the Gulf state’s surprise win of the FIFA World Cup in 2011, sports officials said.
The emirate has faced fresh attacks from Australia soccer boss Frank Lowy and German football federation (DFB) president Theo Zwanziger in recent weeks, who have called for the bid process to be reviewed after Qatar’s win triggered a string of corruption allegations.
"The World Cup file is closed,'' said Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, secretary general of Qatar’s Olympics Committee, in an interview with the Press Association. "We are thinking ahead and planning for the future, bidding for Olympic Games and maybe other events.''
His comments echoed those by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who said on Saturday that there would be no review of the 2022 award, despite a cash-for-votes scandal that saw Qatar’s top football official Mohamed Bin Hammam receive a lifetime ban from the soccer body.
"The 2022 World Cup will be in Qatar and I don't know who can change this decision," said Blatter. "I will intervene if FIFA executive members continue with such declarations.”
Qatar has hosted a string of global sporting events in recent years as it moves to build its profile and accelerate its economic growth. The tiny Gulf emirate hosted the Asian Games in 2006 and the Asian Football Confederation’s soccer tournament in January.
But Doha lost out to London in October in a head-to-head contest to host the 2017 World Championships, despite offering a $236m funding package, including an $80m event budget.
Qatar has submitted a formal bid to hold the 2020 Olympic Games, which will see it take on
Tokyo, Madrid, Rome, Baku and Istanbul in the fight for hosting rights. The Gulf state was eliminated early from the 2016 Olympics after the board rejected its request to hold the games outside of the summer months.
The IOC board will meets in May to decide the host finalists for the 2020 games, with a winner chosen in September 2013.
Qatar has learned from its World Cup bid and tailored its Olympics offering to stay within the scheduled summer months, using tailored air-conditioning systems to keep the stadiums cool, a member of Qatar's ruling Al Thani family told AP.
"We've learnt from the previous bid,'' the unnamed royal was quoted as saying. “We are in love with sports and we want to work together to bring the Olympics to Doha and share our passion with the region.
"We will win some, lose others, but we'll learn from both.''