December 11 - Britain's Sports Minister Hugh Robertson met for the first time today with organisers of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup and pronounced planned facilities as "mind-blowing".
Robertson (pictured top) was one of the speakers here on the opening day of the forum, aimed at formulating partnerships with key sports stakeholders, and spent some of his time away from the conference with key Qatar 2022 officials.
Since London 2012, Robertson has already visited Rio, the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic and 2014 FIFA World Cup host, and Russia, the 2018 World Cup host, to pass on his knowledge and expertise.
Qatar was next on his list and he could not have been more impressed.
"It's not about telling people how to do things, it's about sharing some of the things we got right and some of the things we got wrong," Robertson told insidethegames.
"We were talking to Qatar about some of the organisational challenges they will face.
"Basically all the components of a successful games.
"Since I've been a Minister Qatar has been a constant presence to use sport to make a statement about itself.
"I wanted to see things for myself and it's impossible not to be blown away by what they have achieved in a very short space of time.
"You can sense a real and genuine enthusiasm for sport.
"You can sense it everywhere from the Emir downwards.
"I was to see what the phenomenon was all about.
"The plans I was shown were mindboggling.
"I've always been a supporter of taking major events to places that haven't had them before."
Earlier, in a podium session on the Olympics and Paralympics, Robertson told delegates it was too early to say exactly what the legacy from London 2012 would be from a financial standpoint.
"Some areas are pretty well defined, such as how you fund your elite athletes," said Robertson, adding that the funding package for the period up to Rio in 2016 will be announced next week with some sports likely to fall off the radar because of below-par performances in London.
"We already know what Stratford will look like but we don't yet know what the economic legacy will be.
"And whether we succeed with the aim of producing a long-term increase in participation we can only judge in couple of years' time."
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