The 2006 Asian Olympic Games and the 2016 Olympic Bid
The Qatar Asian Games
In November and December 2006 Qatar held the Asian Olympic Games. The Games, despite being rather soggy due to an unusual deluge of rain, were widely acclaimed a success. Less than 12 months later Qatar opened their bid for the 2016 Olympic Games with a massive party on the Corniche.
The Asian Games
Qatar was the first Arab country, and the second country in West Asia, to hold the games. To prepare for the games the country prepared state of the art sporting facilities and put massive investment into infrastructure.
The games kicked off with a superb multi-media ceremony, directed by David Atkins, who had previously overseen the Sydney Games opening ceremony.
The highlight of the ceremony was when the Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Al-Thani, took the Olympic Flame and, on horseback, rode it up the ramp towards the podium. Due to rain, the ramp was extremely wet, and at one point the horse slipped and seemed about to fall off the ramp. The audience gasped, but the horse regained its footing and continued to the top, where the prince lit the Olympic flame.
According to one employee of the Olympic Committee, the prince had been practicing this manouver in secret, and that his parents had no idea that he would be the rider.
Doha had a shortage of hotel rooms for the games, even after they had chartered three cruise ships. While athletes were well catered for with the superb athletes village now part of Hamed medical city other guests ended up renting rooms and floor space from city residents.
Qatar at times seemed ill-prepared for the unusual amount of rain it had during the Olympics, and some athletes complained that they were forced to wait in the rain for thirty minutes after the end of the opening ceremony. To add insult to injury, it was said, the only athletes who didn't have to wait were the Qataris.
Transport was also a problem. There was a shortage of taxis, and things weren't helped when half the taxis were requisitioned by the Olympic committees. While there was a fledgling bus system, which had been introduced shortly before the games, there were no covered stations to protect commuters from the rain.
2016 Olympic Bid
Doha has stated that it even if it does not win the 2016 Summer Olympics bid, it will continue to bid for the games until it wins them. Never-the-less, if it is ever going to have a good chance, now might be the time as the Olympic Committe likes to rotate the games between continents, Doha may well have an advantage over many of its toughest competitors.
A green bid?
Qatar is proposing to hold :a highly compact, carbon neutral Games, with new technologies in waste water reclamation, water conservation and renewable resources. Venues will be organised in three major clusters and five smaller ones, with the Olympic and Media villages located in the centre.
The Olympic Village, with the capacity to hold 18,000 people, will be designed in the shape of a dove, and 85% of participants will be within 7.5km of where they will be competing. The date for the Olympics would be from October 14th - October 30th.
The logo, which was created by students form the Virginia Commonwealth University of Art and design, is based on a desert flower called the Aldahma - the flower of spring. The blossoming of the flower in Qatar's desert represents the blossoming of human life in the same desert. Meanwhile, strokes used to make the words Doha 2016 are based on Qatar's traditional henna painting.
Doha's slogan for the Games is celebrating change - appropriate enough, considering the huge change that is taking place and has taken place since the current Emir came to power in the 1990's. Doha also hopes the Games will bring greater peace, friendship and hope to the region - a place that surely needs it. Again this is an appropriate message for Qatar - a place where Americans and Iranians, as well as Muslims, Hindus and Christians work side by side, and where even Israelis are welcome.
The Emir (or Amir) used to be a keen sportsman and diver, and has overseen Qatar's drive to promote sports. There is no doubt that the Emir can be relied upon for his full support.
Qatar has proved its ability to hold a major sporting event with the Doha Asian Games. (Or at least its ability to hire people who can hold a major sporting event!)
Qatar states that 70% of the facilities that it needs are already available. It also plans to build an underground sports stadium, which will help athletes to cope with the high temperatures, and expand its 240 hectare Sports City.
Not only does Qatar has wads of money - it's GDP per person is now over $70,000 dollars - the cost of labour is incredibly cheap. Qatar can both spend more than other countries and do things a lot cheaper. The Olympic committee may, however, object to Qatar's illegal system of sponsorship and its treatment of its workers.
Although in terms of security and climate its location may be a disdvantage, Qatar can claim with justification to provide a unique location: no Olympic Games has ever been held in the Middle East.
There were insufficient hotel rooms in the Asian Games, even after three cruise ships had been pulled in to provide additional beds, and some journalists ended up sleeping on floors. Doha currently has around 80,000 hotel rooms, whereas the minimum requirement for an Olympic Games is 60,000. However, a number of hotels are in the process of being built, and Qatar has guaranteed a minimum of 82,852 rooms, of which 87% will be within 10km of the Games centre. A further 6000 rooms would be provided by luxury cruise ships.
Although the event would be held in the second half of October, temperatures can still be high, as can humidity. The average temperature in the day at this time of year is between 28 and 31 degrees celsius and humidity is between 49 and 61%.
Prior to the Asian Games traffic reached gridlock. Traffic and transport was also a problem during the Asian Games. However, against this Qatar's fledgling bus service has developed substantially since Qatar's Asian Game. Qatar is continuing to spend billions on infrastructure, and there are plans to build a metro-light railways with tram lines and a feeder bus network. These railways will connect all the major Olympic venues.
Qatar's population should hit a million this year, but Doha has little more than 300,000, making it one of the smallest cities ever to hold games. However, in a recent interview Hess Bin Ali, chairman of the bid, has predicted that Qatar will grow from its current population of just under 1 million to 2 1/2 million. It is also possible that Doha will transport tourists from neighbouring countries - there are plans to build a bridge from close-by Bahrain.
While Qatar is itself a stable country, and has suffered far fewer terrorist attacks than London, it is in a very volatile region: Saudi Arabia borders it on one side, Iran faces it across the Arabian Gulf and Iraq is not too far off.
There has been criticism of Qatar's use of foreign athletes. Qatar often offers foreign athletes nationality and money in return for competing in its national teams. The Asian Olympic Games has also been criticised for not being very Qatari: Qatar imported 25,000 foreigners to prepare for and run the Asian Games. What's more, and perhaps unsurprisingly in a country with a mostly expatriate population, few of the 16,000 local volunteers were Qatari, except perhaps for the security detail, and many could not even speak Arabic.