AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023: Qatar’s Sports Diplomacy is Safe Haven, Shining Face of Asian Football -1-

Qatar being a safe haven for various tournaments was the biggest supporter of Qatar’s bid to host the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, after China relinquished their rights for organizing the event due to a new outbreak of COVID in the country. Therefore, the Qatari bid, which was originally intended for hosting the 2027 finals, was successful, especially with the successive withdrawals of Australia, Indonesia and South Korea from the race.

Organizing the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 enhanced the chances of the Qatari bid for the hosting of the continental championship, which was launched in 1956, for the third in its history, after hosting the editions of 1988 and 2011. The bid was supported by the well-established infrastructure and logistic aspects, in addition to Dohas great legacy in sports facilities and expertise gained through hosting many different sporting events over the past years.

According to remarks made by AFC officials, the Qatari bid succeeded in winning the hosting right for three main reasons agreed upon by everyone, even the competitors in other bids. These are Qatars capabilities and record in hosting major sporting events; Qatars highly appreciated and meticulous attention to fine details in organization, and the short time available to prepare for hosting the event after Chinas withdrawal. This came in the interest of the Qatari bid, which is supported by the world-class infrastructure that hosted the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and the high organizational capabilities, which confirms Doha’s readiness to present a wonderful edition commensurate with the value and status of the most important tournaments in the Asian continent.

Successful Qatari sports diplomacy over the past years has covered not only football, but also other games, which was clearly evident in 2019 when Doha was credited with bringing the first edition of the World Beach Games (ANOC) to light after it assumed responsibility and agreed to host the games only three months ahead, as the US city of San Diego pulled out.

Despite the tight time window and the difficulties of providing the necessary atmosphere for the various beach games competitions, Qatar showed unprecedented efficiency and was able, within less than a few months, to prepare the necessary and appropriate infrastructure for the success of the tournament, in which more than 1,200 male and female athletes, representing 97 National Olympic Committees, participated.

During the COVID pandemic, the State of Qatar was also a safe resort for the Chinese men’s and women’s table tennis teams, who were unable to return to their country due to the outbreak of the pandemic. The team, which comprised 29 top ranked athletes (15 males and 14 females), along with several coaches and officials, were hosted in a camp for a full month in Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence, to confirm the State of Qatars keenness and appreciation for sports and athletes around the world.

Against the background of the successive crises in Afghanistan, the State of Qatar has also hosted more than 150 Afghan athletes and sports workers along with their families, including 50 female football players and their relatives, in coordination with the FIFA, after they were evacuated from their country.

Through its humanitarian and social legacy programmes, the State of Qatar provided support to Afghan refugees by organizing sports activities and daily events in their temporary residence in Doha, in order to help them overcome the challenges they faced, with the aim of helping the participants learn basic life skills, such as successful leadership, acceptance of diversity, equal rights, and teamwork.

Moving from its firm belief in the need to utilize sports in promoting peace, stability and sustainable development, and the need to take effective steps to ensure that Afghans practice sports and participate in sports tournaments and mechanisms through which educational opportunities can be supported, especially for women and girls in the country, Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) hosted the second meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) with representatives of the Afghan Olympic Committee and the General Administration of Physical Education and Sports in Afghanistan.

Source: Qatar News Agency

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