Qatar puts name in hat for 2032 Olympics

DOHA • Qatar announced yesterday it will seek to host the 2032 Olympic Games, joining a crowded field and raising questions about scorching summer temperatures and underwhelming attendances at past events.

India, Australia's Queensland state, the Chinese city of Shanghai and a potential joint bid between South and North Korea are also being touted for the 2032 Summer Games.

Under changes put forward in 2014, interested countries submit a request to join the non-committal "continuous dialogue", which Qatar confirmed it had done via a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne.

"Today's announcement marks the beginning of a meaningful dialogue with the IOC's future host commission to explore our interest further and identify how the Olympic Games can support Qatar's long-term development goals," Qatar Olympic Committee president Sheikh Joaan Hamad Khalifa Al-Thani said.

Qatar unsuccessfully bid to host the 2016 and 2020 Games, having proposed to host the former in October without first clearing it with the IOC. It won a waiver to propose hosting the 2020 Games, a joint bid with Baku, Azerbaijan between Sept 20 and Oct 20, but failed to make the shortlist.

The 2020 Games, postponed to next year because of the coronavirus pandemic, were awarded to Tokyo, which also experiences searing summer temperatures, leading officials to schedule events in mornings when conditions are coolest.

"Qatar has earned the reputation of a world-class destination for major sporting events," added Sheikh Joaan, brother of Qatar's ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al-Thani.

"It is this proven track-record and wealth of experience, along with our desire to use sport to promote peace and cultural exchange, that will form the basis of our discussions with the commission."

Key sports events held in Qatar include the Qatar Masters (golf), Qatar ExxonMobil Tennis Open, Qatar Total Tennis Open, MotoGP's Grand Prix of Qatar, and the IAAF Diamond League (athletics).

Summer temperatures can reach 50 deg C in the nation which abuts the Arabian desert. Heat and humidity were major issues during the road races at last year's World Athletics Championships held in Doha. The poor attendance on the first few days also attracted criticism.

The Olympics have never been hosted in the Middle East, and Qatar will be the first nation in the region to host football's biggest showpiece. It has invested billions of dollars in preparing for the 2022 World Cup. However, human rights groups have criticised the treatment of migrant workers there.

The Qatari government has said it does not tolerate unscrupulous treatment of workers.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2020, with the headline 'Qatar puts name in hat for 2032 Olympics'. Print Edition | Subscribe