By Duncan Mackay

Qatar 2018 World Gymnastics ChampionshipsApril 1 - Qatar is set to be awarded another major event after launching a bid to host the 2018 Artistic World Gymnastics Championships at the Aspire Academy in Doha.

Ali Al Hitmi, President of the Qatar Gymnastics Federation (QGF), revealed that it submitted its candidature file to the World Gymnastics Federation (FIG) in Lausanne last month. 

There are currently no other cities bidding for the event, which means it should be a formality when FIG announces its decision in June.

"We are very confident of winning this bid," said Al Hitmi, who is a member of FIG's ruling Executive Committee.

"We launched plans to submit our bid file around three years ago.

"The feedback on our events at Aspire Academy from FIG officials and that from the gymnasts convinced us that we should bring the world's best event to Doha."

If Doha's bid is successful, then it will be the fifth top world the Gulf state will be staging over the next few years.

They have already been awarded the 2014 FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships, 2015 men's World Handball Championships, the 2016 Cycling World Road Championships and, most controversially, the 2022 FIFA World Cup. 

Doha gymnastics 2Action from the FIG World Challenge Cup Artistic Gymnastics in Doha last month

The Aspire Academy, one of sport's most state-of-the-art facilities, has already hosted several top events, including the 2010 World Indoor Athletics Championships. 

"I will tell you how the idea of bidding for the World Championships popped up," said said Al Hitmi.

"We were constantly urged by the gymnastics family to go for something big.

"They said you have the top facility.

"They said we have one of the best events on the calender.

"Last year we got in touch with the Qatar Olympic Committee and explored the possibilities of hosting for the World Championships.

"Then we started our preparations on the bid file.

"We got together with our Board members and got more feedback from the international gymnasts.

"We chose 2018 because we were in the 2020 Olympic Games race then.

"Although we are not part of the 2020 Olympic Games race now but QOC is eager to continue our bid for the 2018 World Championships.

"We have already submitted our file."

Aspire Academy in gymnastics modeThe state-of-the-art Aspire Academy would host the 2018 Artistic World Gymnastics Championships if Doha's bid is successful

Al Hitmi said FIG will meet in Liverpool next month to announce the final list of bidding cities.

Mexico had originally planned to bid but are expected to concentrate on 2019 instead.

"As of now, we are the only bidder," said Al Hitmi.

"Our bid file is pretty convincing because the players compete and train here in Aspire Academy.

"Gymnasts prefer carrying out training routines and actual competition at one venue.

"We provide just that.

"I don't want to go on keep praising our bid but we know that the FIG family is pretty happy with the five editions of FIG World Challenge Cup staged so far."

Tokyo 2011 World Gymnastics ChampionshipsThe last edition of the Artistic World Gymnastics Championships was held in 2011 in Tokyo, one of only three occasions the event has been held in Asia

The Artistic World Gymnastics Championships was first held in 1903, when they took place in Antwerp, and are an annual event, except in Olympic year when they do not take place.

The last edition of the event was held in Tokyo in 2011 while this year's event are due to take place in Antwerp to mark the 110th anniversary of the first Championships. 

If Doha are awarded the event it will be only the fourth occasion that they have been held in Asia, following Tokyo in 2011 and Sabae, also in Japan, in 1995, and Tianjin, in China, in 1999.

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