Asian Games Heads to Qatar in 2030
Two cities submitted their bids to host the 2030 Asian Games; one city made the grade - that city is Doha, Qatar's capital. Having already hosted the hugely successful 2006 Asian Games, and winning the hosting rights for the World Cup 2022, Qatar was always going to be a front runner. Their sports event management experience and their state-of-the-art, modern sporting infrastructure certainly gave them the edge in the competition.
Forty-five countries took part in the vote to decide who the host nation would be - while eight countries offered no vote, twenty-seven of the remaining thirty-seven voted for Doha. Saudi Arabian rival city, Riyadh, won ten votes in total. While Riyadh may have lost out on this occasion, the city was instead granted, by the Olympic Council of Asia's General Assembly, the 2034 Asian Games hosting rights to promote unity and solidarity in the region.
With yet another major sports tournament on its books, Qatar is set to cement its role as an emerging sporting nation, and more importantly as the first Middle Eastern sports hub with the facilities and know-how to compete on a global level.
The Asian Games
The Asian Games is the largest continental multi-sport tournament, and, after the Summer Olympics, the second-largest multi-sport event in the world. Recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and organised by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the games, also known as Asiad, are held every four years and involve, in modern times, 45 Asian countries and over 10,000 athletes. The first games were held in New Delhi, India in 1951 with just 11 participating countries and 489 athletes. Indeed, the games have grown with each year of hosting. In 1951, a mere 57 events over six sporting activities took place, but in the last games held in Indonesian cities Jakarta and Palembang in 2018, there were 40 sports played out over 460 events. The sports disciplines contested at the games range from aquatics, cycling, equestrian, gymnastics, martial arts, rugby and tennis to board games and roller sports such as rollerblading and skateboarding.
To date, there have been eighteen games hosted throughout Asia. Nine nations have hosted the games - China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, and, of course, Qatar. The next games in 2022 are scheduled to be held in China's Hangzhou, China. Then in Japanese cities, Aichi and Nagoya, in 2026, followed by the 2030 games in Doha, Qatar.
Qatar - Ready for Action
Qatar has spent the last two decades reinventing itself as a sporting nation. The country has built world-class sports facilities, invested in its athletes, their training and the nation's sports medicine capabilities. Concurrently, Qatar has positioned itself as a premier sporting destination hosting a multitude of regional and international sports events.
Regionally, the country has hosted the Asian Championships for basketball, fencing, football, handball, indoor athletics, sailing, shooting and wrestling, the Arab Games, the West Asian Games and, of course, the 2006 Asian Games. Internationally, Qatar has hosted World Championships and international tournaments in Athletics, Beach Games, Boxing, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Handball, Moto Racing, Sailing, Show Jumping, Tennis, Table Tennis and Weightlifting - to name but a few. And, they will, in two years, become the first Middle Eastern country to host the FIFA World Cup; for which Qataris are justifiably proud.
The 2022 World Cup has not only seen a phenomenal investment in Qatar's sporting facilities - eight new stadiums, new training grounds and centres - but also in the country's transport infrastructure, communications and security sectors, and its hospitality and tourism industry. A brand new, ultra-modern Metro system, new five-lane highways and new road systems make travelling in and outside of the city a breeze, in a country accessible via a new world-class airport. Up-to-the-minute communications systems and internationally-backed security approaches make Qatar super connected and the safest in the region. And, the growing number of hotels, resorts, spas, restaurants and attractions means that this tiny nation has something for everyone.
More recently, Qatar has also demonstrated its mettle during a crisis. 2020 brought coronavirus, which saw great swathes of the world's economy come to a near standstill - including the sports industry. Proving its ability to manage sporting events, in terms of know-how, logistics, welfare and safety, under unprecedented and challenging conditions, Qatar hosted the AFC Asian Champions League tournament amid the pandemic. For the competition to go ahead, the nation implemented stringent safety measures, through rigorous planning and strict protocols. And, the bold decision to host such an event at such a time paid off. The tournament was a huge success in terms of football. And, in terms of enhancing the country's image as a major sports venue and competent host.
Qatar has shown, over the last twenty years, its proficiencies in organising, managing and delivering major events, and providing first-class sports, training, medical facilities. But, the country has also achieved international confidence that athletes coming to Qatar can not only compete at the highest level, but also in the knowledge that they are safe and secure, and in a modern, vibrant and fascinating city.
Qatar has demonstrated time and again its prowess as a world-class sports hub, it's no wonder the 2030 Asian Games were awarded to this plucky little nation!
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