Not since the 7th Asiad in Tehran, 1974 has the Asiad visited West Asia, and Doha will be in the spotlight as both an ambassador for Asian sport, and for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region when it hosts competitors, officials, and media from 45 counties in December.

 

Athletes from Maldives to Myanmar and Tajikistan to Thailand will compete in 39 different sports featuring 423 events, with chess and triathlon making their debuts as official Asian Games sports.

 

Non-Olympic sports such as Kabaddi, Sepak Takraw and Wushu are sure to give the event an exotic feel to western audiences as the Games receives full digital coverage for the first time with high-definition television coverage available for some of the major events.

 

The Doha Asian Games Organising Committee (DAGOC), who are responsible for the overall planning and execution of all elements of the Games have been hard at work as Doha strives to put on a sporting event which will put it on the map as a fast developing city like its neighbours Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE.

 

Concerns over the readiness of roads, sporting venues, accommodation, and transport have been raised and the usual heat and humidity of summer in Doha has seen slow progress on outdoor construction.

 

While advancements have been made to the previously farcical road network and construction on many key buildings is yet to be completed officials have all pledged that the city will be ready to host the Games.

 

With a population of around 870,000 people, another challenge for Qatar will be to encourage spectators to go to the Games in a country where local sporting events are often poorly attended.

 

Tickets to some events start at 5 Qatari riyals, or $1.40, with a seat at the football final costing a reasonable 20 riyals, or $5.50.

 

The longest Asian Games torch relay begins on October 8 in Doha, and will cover over 50,000 kilometers through 15 different countries and regions including India, Korea, Iran and Kuwait.

 

The opening ceremony for the Games, requiring over 10,000 costumes, will take place on December 1 at Khalifa Stadium in the Sport City complex which also houses Qatar’s academy of sport, ASPIRE.