Sports in the Middle East

The Proposed Stadium for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Does the climate work against international sports events in the Middle East?

The LA Times Middle East Blog “Babylon and Beyond” is reporting that Dubai is contemplating a bid for the 2020 summer Olympics.  Cool (not literally), but, of course, there are tons of problems that the Emirate would need to overcome.  As the UAE has no formal diplomatic relations with Israel, one obvious question is whether Israeli athletes would be granted special visas (would the Mossad be granted visas as well?).  Another problem is the heat, which in the Gulf tends to be a bit overbearing (understatement?).  A Dubai bid would certainly have to differ from the failed Qatari bid for the 2016 games, in which the country proposed holding the games later in the year to avoid the summer heat (2016 Autumn games?).

[tweetmeme] Qatar has rebounded from its failure by submitting a bid for the 2022 World Cup.  But, instead of holding the World Cup in November, Qatar is proposing to build 12 new outdoor, carbon neutral, air-conditioned, solar-powered stadiums if it wins its bid.  Although summer temperatures can easily reach to over 50 degrees, the new stadiums would apparently be able to keep the pitches at a constant temperature of 27 degrees.  Qatar is up against South Korea, Australia, England, Japan, Netherlands/Belgium, Russia, Spain/Portugal and the US for the World Cup.  The decision should be made by FIFA in December.

A massive international event such as the Olympics or the World Cup would do wonders for the region:

“The peak performance for a player is reached between 24 and 29 degrees Celsius and we can guarantee 27 degrees on the pitch,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, son of the Emir of Qatar.

“It’s time for the World Cup to come to the Middle East. A global sporting event of this caliber, if it comes here, will bring a whole burst of life to the region.”

But like Dubai in 2020 and the failed Qatari 2016 bid, there are many problems to overcome that extend past the sweltering heat.  It would certainly be an interesting development if either event made its way to the Middle East.  (Hat tip to Babylon and Beyond)

Photo from The Culture of Soccer (though the picture is actually from Chile)

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