By Duncan Mackay

Sheikh Saoud_bin_Abdulrahman_al-Thani_at_National_Sports_Day_Doha_February_14_2012February 14 - Qatar today celebrated its first-ever National Sports Day with Government agencies, companies, educational and social institutions coming together to organise more than 350 free activities to promote sport and healthy lifestyle in an event designed to help showcase Doha's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. 

The Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) organised the preparations which included all public sports facilities in Qatar opening their doors to the public for free between 7am and 8pm.

Qatar Petroleum, meanwhile, spearheaded the energy sector's activities with over 50 sports activities across the country, including its offshore operations, for all its employees and their families.  

Other major companies including Qatar Airways, Al Jazeera, RasGas and Q Media also played a major role supporting the National Sports Day by organising "fun sports days" for their staff and families.

The Qatar Football Association, Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee and Qatar Stars League hosted a special event named "Football Town" on the Aspire football pitch which included football tournaments, beach football clinics hosted by Ramiro Amarelle, the captain of Spain's beach football team, and an interactive fan zone where participants could test their football skills.

National Sports_Day_with_Qatar_Sheikh_February_14_2012
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani (pictured) also showed his support for the event by taking part.

Sheikh Saoud bin Abdelrahman Al-Thani, the general secretary of the QOC, had rushed back from Lausanne - where yesterday he had handed in Doha's Applicant City file to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) - to attend the event.

"Today has been a fantastic day and we have seen a great response from public and private organisations to really get behind this important national initiative," he said.

"It is great to see so many people, from young boys and girls to their grandparents, get involved and try new sports. 

"The whole nation has really embraced Qatar's first National Sports Day and it shows what can be achieved with vision and commitment."

Doha 2020 organised a four kilometres fun run at the Aspire Zone.

"It is wonderful to see so many people participate in the 4k race to celebrate National Sports Day," said Noora Al Mannai, the chief executive of Doha 2020. 

"This initiative is all about inspiring and supporting change and getting more people actively engaged in sport, healthy lifestyles and bring communities together, and I think today is a great step to achieving this."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
February 2012: Doha 2020 promise to help improve women's participation in the Middle East
February 2012: Exclusive - "Everything is covered" claim Doha 2020 as they prepare to hand in Applicant File
February 2012: Doha 2020 launch nurturing tree bid logo
January 2012: Doha sets February 10 date for launch of 2020 bid logo
January 2012: Exclusive - Doha Olympic bid faces "supplementary" question, says Rogge