By Mike Rowbottom

The Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, which would host the 2019 IAAF World Championships if they are awarded to Qatar tomorrow ©Getty ImagesOn the eve of the decision as to who will host the 2019 World Athletics Championships, Doha bid leader Dahlan Al-Hamad has dismissed fears other Gulf states would boycott a staging in Qatar as a result of tensions in the area.


Doha is up against Barcelona and Eugene in the three horse race, with the winner being chosen by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in Monaco tomorrow.

Last Thursday (November 13) it was reported that Egypt had withdrawn from the World Short Course Swimming Championships that will take place in Doha from December 3 to 7.

Egypt thus became the third nation to drop out of a Qatari-hosted major sporting event in the space of a week after Monday's (November 10) withdrawal from the 2015 World Handball Championship of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates - both strong supporters of Doha's original bid for the event.

Bahrain and the UAE were said to have taken this action in protest at Qatar's alleged support of Islamist groups in the Middle East, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

But Al-Hamad, who also headed the bid team for the 2017 Championships which lost 16-10 on a vote to London, insisted he was "certain that there will be no such problem for us because we have good relations with all our federations and friends around the region".

Dahlan Al-Hamad, the IAAF Vice President who heads the Doha bid for the 2019 IAAF World Championships, says there will be no risk of political boycotts from elsewhere in the Gulf should Doha earn the right to stage the Championships in tomorrow's vote in Monaco ©Getty ImagesDahlan Al-Hamad, the IAAF Vice President who heads the Doha bid for the 2019 IAAF World Championships, says there will be no risk of political boycotts from elsewhere in the Gulf should Doha earn the right to stage the Championships in tomorrow's vote in Monaco
©Getty Images


"It is most important that we keep sport and politics apart and protect athletes from having to go down this channel," the official, who also leads the Asian Athletics Association, added.

Speaking in Monaco - where the IAAF Council will vote tomorrow after hearing submissions from the three contenders, Al-Hamad admitted that lessons had been learned from the 2017 defeat.

"We have completed our file more, and we have concentrated on selecting the dates and our agenda after studying the sports agenda internationally," he said.

"Also, climate-wise, there are things we have reviewed and we have advanced solutions."

"The IAAF Congress would be on September 27, and the Championships would start on October 1.

"Temperatures at that time would be around 34-35 degrees in the mornings, and around 30 degrees in the evenings.

"When Doha has hosted the IAAF Diamond League meetings in May, if you have ever attended them, you could feel that the temperatures during the World Championships are going to be less than during the Diamond League...

"We have revised the international calendar and found a slot that is the best time for us to host the World Championships."

Dahlan Al Hamad is greeted by IAAF Evaluation Commission head, Sebastian Coe during the inspection visit to Doha last month ©Doha 2019Dahlan Al Hamad is greeted by IAAF Evaluation Commission head, Sebastian Coe during the inspection visit to Doha last month ©Doha 2019



Al-Hamad, head of the Qatar Athletics Federation and a senior vice-president of the IAAF, said an award to Doha would enable the International Federation to "expand its horizons" in the region.

"We have been waiting a long time to see the World Championships in our region," he said.

"We are ready - we think we have the experience to deliver and we have the philosophy and principle that our bid will have a new horizon and new opportunities.

"We can guarantee success, we think we are also a trusted partner of the IAAF.

"We have been working with them since the first Grand Prix in 1997.

"We took the level up by hosting the 2010 World Indoor Championships and now we are ready to expand the IAAF horizon in the Middle East and North Africa by hosting the World Championships.

"We feel that it is the right time."

Many think Doha 2019 could be a stepping stone to a third successive Summer Olympic bid ©Getty ImagesMany think Doha 2019 could be a stepping stone to a third successive Summer Olympic bid ©Getty Images



Al-Hamad fended off the question of whether a successful bid for the IAAF World Championships would be a platform ahead of a bid for the 2024 Olympics, insisting that, "when a country wants to host a mega-event there is always co-ordination with other federations".

"A bid for the 2024 Olympics is something everyone is keen about but our intention now is to convince the IAAF to give us the World Championships."

On the subject of the recent controversy over FIFA's investigation into allegations of corruption over the decisions to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals to, respectively, Russia and Qatar, Al-Hamad responded:

"When we talk about the corruption allegations, we are very happy that FIFA has investigated and announced that everything is clear and can go ahead in Qatar.

"But our concentration is to organise for the World Championships in the right way, and within the IAAF rules.

"When Sebastian Coe visited us last month as head of the IAAF Evaluation Committee, he said that the IAAF will be basing its decision on who will best be able to host and support a track and field championship.

"We are partners of the IAAF since 1997, and we always have a good relationship with them."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected].biz


Related stories
November 2014: Qatari schoolchildren show support for Doha 2019 IAAF World Championships bid
November 2014: Nick Butler: Doha campaign for IAAF World Championships is formidable bid but just one part of Qatar's growing sporting CV
October 2014: Marathon runners will be kept in the dark if Doha win bid to host 2019 IAAF World Championships
October 2014: Doha has learnt lessons of failed 2017 bid, claims Qatari athletics chief
October 2014: IAAF inspectors touch down to review Doha 2019 World Championships bid