Exclusive: Doha will not give up on hosting Olympics, says Qatar Olympic Committee head

Saturday, 04 August 2012
By Andrew Warshaw at Bayt Qatar in London

Sheikh Saoud_Bin_Abdulrahman_Al-Thani_at_Qatar_House_London_2012August 4 - The head of the Qatar Olympic Committee and the man who led their failed bid for the 2020 Games promised that they will never give up trying to put on the greatest sporting show on earth.

Doha was eliminated from the shortlist for 2020 earlier this year, along with Baku, but is being widely tipped to bid again for 2024.

Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani (pictured above), general secretary of the Qatar Olympic Committee, says the Gulf state, which also failed with a 2016 bid, has come to terms with missing out on 2020 – now a straight fight between Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid.

"The good thing is that you learn from your mistakes until you reach your goals," Sheikh Saoud told insidethegames.

"We have learned from the IOC (International Olympic Committee) report and we know the areas we need to cover better.

"We know what happened with 2020.

"After 2016 we knew we needed to work more closely with the international federations and we did.

"We will not give up."

qatar 2022_announcement_31-07-12FIFA President Sepp Blatter reveals Qatar as the host of the 2022 World Cup

Qatar's success in winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup ballot may still be shrouded in suspicion in some quarters but Sheikh Saoud said it showed what could be done with a collective will.

"We had a target to win the World Cup – and we had it," he said.

"The Olympics is not a dream we should no longer have.

"We will reach that target one day.

"It can still become a reality if you try and try.

"Pyeongchang tried three times [for the Winter Games] and they won against Munich.

"You have to believe in your objectives and how sport can play a role."

In the drive to gain further international recognition, Sheikh Saoud revealed that the Qataris were pressing ahead with a high-performance training centre for women athletes – one of the promises made in the bid book for 2020.

Qatar has broken new ground by sending four female athletes to London 2012 and Sheikh Saoud says the new centre will provide a platform for greater participation in the future.

Swimmer Nada_Mohammed_Wafa_Arkaji_22-02-12Swimmer Nada Mohammed Wafa Arkaji was the first woman to represent Qatar at the Olympics when she competed in the 50 metres freestyle at London 2012

"It wasn't only for the Olympics but part of the master plan we have been working on for three years," he said, "not just for Qatar but the whole region.

"Many countries would love their females to train but they don't have the facilities.

"It's something hopefully we will finish in 2015 and will be a hub for female sports development.

"Hopefully one day it will lead to a Qatari female Olympic medallist."

Sheikh Saoud was speaking after the launch of Doha Goals, the latest in a spate of sporting initiatives by the progressive Gulf state, centred on a global conference of opinion-makers to be staged in December.

Among the high-profile speakers announced today will be American sprint legend Carl Lewis, his compatriot multiple Olympic gold medal swimming champion Mark Spitz, and South Africa's Oscar Pistorius.

American nine-time_Olympic_gold_medalist_Carl_Lewis_31-07-12American nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis will speak at the Doha Goals conference in December

"Because of my travels round the world I was exposed to different cultures and have witnessed the transformative power of sport," said Lewis during the official launch at Qatar's London 2012 base.

"After 30 years of being in the public eye, I have a global voice.

"You have to ask yourself: how can I use my voice to remain relevant and make a difference."

Richard Attias, who used to run the World Economic Forum in Davos, has been recruited to drive the Doha project, designed to use sport as a tool for social integration.

Contact the writer of this story at andrew.warshaw@insidethegames.biz


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