By Tom Degun at the International Sport Security Conference in Doha

Noora Al_Mannai_being_interviewed_in_DohaMarch 15 - Doha 2020 chief executive Noora Al Mannai (pictured) has claimed that the financial strength of Qatar puts them in a very strong position in terms of their Olympic and Paralympic bid given that the current worldwide economic downturn has hit most countries across the globe.

It was the major economic problems in Italy that forced Rome to withdraw from the bid race last month to leave Doha along with Baku, Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo as the five remaining contenders for the 2020 competition.

There are also concerns over the Madrid bid given the major problems with Spain's current economy but there are no such fears with Qatar as the oil and gas rich country is now the most prosperous nations on the planet.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is due to announce cities shortlisted for Candidate City status at its Executive Board meeting in Quebec City on May 23 and Al Mannai feels that Qatar's financial resources will help them make the shortlist.

Proved oil reserves in excess of 25 billion barrels should enable continued output at current levels for 57 years while Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas exceed 25 trillion cubic meters, more than 13 per cent of the world total and third largest in the world.

"The financial strength of a bid is one of the parameters that the IOC use to decide if a city will be shortlisted or not," she told insidethegames here.

"It obviously makes sense for any mega-event around the world to look at the issue seriously because the economic situation across the world is not getting better; it is getting worse.

"You need to stage major events in cities with the financial capability to host them.

"That was the case with Beijing in 2008 when they hosted a great Games.

"On that front, we are in a very good position because we are strong financially."

Doha 15_March
Doha's bid for the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics ended in controversy four years ago when they failed to make the shortlist because the IOC would not allow them to host the Games later than August,  when Qatar experiences searing temperatures.

But the Doha 2020 bid has now been given permission to hold the event outside the window and Al Mannai feels that the Qatari capital now offers a unique chance for the Olympic Movement to take the Middle East for the first time.

"Our Applicant File [which was handed in last month] contains a strong hosting plan that is based on many existing venues and a number of planned facilities," she said.

"It also outlines an exciting legacy vision focused on building opportunities for Olympic sports in the region and growing participation across the Middle East – especially among girls and women.

"This bid is much better than last time and the whole city is under a huge amount of development.

"I think 2020 is a historic opportunity to grow the Olympic Movement in a new region and a very exciting opportunity for the Olympic Movement to go to a new horizon."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
February 2012: Doha 2020 promise to pioneer Arab women in sport
February 2012: Impact of Rome's withdrawal from 2020 Olympics is unclear, says Doha
February 2012: Doha target October for 2020 Olympic Games bid
February 2012: Doha 2020 bid boosted by National Sports Day
February 2012: Doha 2020 promise to help improve women's participation in the Middle East