Sport & Culture

The Race is on for the 2024 Olympics

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Sport & Culture

The Race is on for the 2024 Olympics

As the sporting world speculates over the 2020 Olympics, Qatar positions itself for 2024.

The decision as to where the 2020 Olympic Games will be held is to be announced in September 2013 with Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul in the running.

The race for 2020 may be about to start the final lap, but there is already a whole host of cities that are considering whether to throw their hats in the ring for the 2024 edition.

Doha in Qatar has already decided to do so. The city tried for 2020 but failed to make the final list.

Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, general secretary of the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC), is not deterred and this ambitious Middle Eastern state is ready to start all over again.

"Our focus since the beginning of this project has been legacy and ensuring that we avoid white elephants," Sheikh Saoud said.

"We have watched countries build large venues and struggle later with what to do with them; and our team has worked backwards, thinking first about how these venues can be of use in the future before planning their use during major sporting events."

With much of the world in, or just coming out of, recession, the financial soundness of any Qatari bid means that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would not have to worry about any future problems on that score. The current crisis could damage Madrid’s chances for 2020, though organisers are still hopeful.

And in terms of facilities and infrastructure, there is little that Qatar could not provide by the time 2024 comes around.

It is, of course, hosting the 2022 World Cup, a race it won against the odds. Much of the infrastructure built for that tournament would be available two years later.

There would be fierce competition around the world, with North America sure to be seeking its first summer games for almost three decades. Assuming that Tokyo wins 2020 as expected, a number of European cities will be keen to take the tournament back westwards.

If Japan does host the games in 2020, it will be a blow for any plans that Taipei may have.  President Ma Ying-jeou has been a vocal advocate of bidding and the city is hosting the 2017 Summer Universiade. But if the games are in Tokyo in 2020, there is virtually no chance of the tournament returning to East Asia just four years later.

That would be less of a problem for Dubai, another interested city. Like Doha, the thought of a Middle Eastern games would be an appealing one in many aspects though the summer heat would make it difficult. It is possible that both cities would be allowed to host around November when the temperatures are hot rather than brutal.

Though maybe not. Major television networks, at least in the United States, prefer a summer games as the autumn season is a busy one in terms of sports.

Dubai decided against bidding for 2020 in order to have more time to prepare for 2024.

Saeed Abdul Ghaffar, the secretary general of the UAE National Olympic Committee said in 2011 that hosting the games there would be historic.

"Dubai will represent the Arab world at the Olympics," Mr Ghaffar said. "If we are successful for Dubai to host the event, it will be a historical event. It will be the first time for the Middle East. We want to do it professionally and not just host the event," Mr Ghaffar said.

"It is not strange for Dubai to host a big event- it has hosted many big events – but when it comes to the Olympics, there is a need to make big preparations."