By Duncan Mackay

Doha fireworks_OlympicsDecember 24 - Doha's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics is beginning to gather momentum with the official appointment of a firm to work as lead project consultants on the project and a public show of support from its Gulf neighbours.

MI Associates, an Australian-based company whose services include project management, strategic advice and major event bidding, have been hired to to work on the Applicant File which must be submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by February 15.

The company, founded in 2001 after several of its associates had worked on the 2000 Olympics and Paralympics in Sydney, have previously worked for several bids and organisers, including Athens in 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio de Janerio 2016. 

It is headed by Jim Sloman, who was the chief operating officer of Sydney 2000 and who is currently chairman of Laing O'Rourke in Australia.

"We are delighted to have MI Associates on board as the company has unparalleled experience in the sport and Olympic arena," said Noora Al-Mannai, the chief executive of Doha 2020. 

"They have worked on numerous Olympic Games projects and their insights and track record of delivery will prove invaluable as the production of our Applicant File progresses."

MI Associates have a record of working for Doha having previously been involved in the 2006 Asian Games which the Qatari capital hosted.

They join a team that already includes Vero Communications, led by former London 2012 communications director Mike Lee, and Andrew Craig, who also worked on London's successful bid, who will be leading Doha's team as they take on rivals Baku, Istanbul, Madrid, Rome and Tokyo.

"This is a very exciting project for us because of the real commitment and ambition of Doha in terms of the development and delivery of sport," said Hugh Taylor, the director of MI Associates.

"We have had the opportunity to work with the Qatar Olympic Committee on their sports venues masterplan and our engagement with Doha 2020 flows naturally from this project.  

"In partnership with the bid team our aim is to produce a first class Applicant File."

Meanwhile, the leaders of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have all officially given Doha's bid its support at the 32nd Supreme Council for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). 

"The GCC Supreme Council confirmed the support of the GCC Member States for Qatar's hosting the 2020 Olympic Games, putting all their potential at its disposal to make this important sporting event a success," they said in an official statement. 

Noora Al-Mannai_head_and_shoulders"Doha 2020 is a bid not just for Qatar but for the entire Middle East," said Al-Mannai (pictured).

"The fact that we have the full backing of the Gulf Cooperation Council is an important demonstration of the support we are receiving from across the region.

"If we are successful in bringing the Games to the region for the first time, the impact on sports development and participation, especially for women, will be profound. 

"Our aim is to show that Doha 2020 will offer wonderful legacies for Olympic sport throughout the Middle East and a real opportunity for the Olympic Movement to make a difference at this important moment in the region's history.

"We are proud to have this show of support from the GCC so soon after receiving the backing of all the National Olympic Committees represented at the 2011 Arab Games.

"This is a real boost to the Doha 2020 campaign."

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