Pressure mounts on Doha

When the PR releases tell you everything is fine, you always know one thing: everything is not fine.

Qatar is feeling the heat of the Games deadlines
Qatar is feeling the heat of the Games deadlines

With 31 days to go until the start of the 15th Asian Games the organisers and the city of Doha are under pressure to produce an event that lives up to its billing and hype.

This isn’t new, all major sporting events have felt the same pressure as the days count down, the Athens Olympics was widely derided prior to its launch and it all held together.

But the issues facing the Doha Asian Games Organising Committee (DAGOC) and the work that needs to be done suggests that the midnight oil will need to be burnt if the region ever hopes to hold another event of this magnitude.


The accommodation issue is being hotly debated between press releases at the moment.

The official line is that everyone will be catered for and everything will work smoothly.

Cracks appeared in this line when Japan said that they were bringing air beds to Doha to accommodate their athletes.

The thought that an athlete would be expected to rest and recover before or after an event on an air bed beggars belief, and for those athletes concerned the ‘flame of hospitality’ must be very dim indeed.

Two cruise ships are expected to arrive in Doha in the coming weeks to accommodate athletes as well. One hopes none suffer from sea sickness.

The fact is the organising committee has under catered in its athlete’s village.

Sources within DAGOC have confirmed to Al Jazeera that teams have been asked to review their numbers in the hope that the pressure will be relieved by athletes not attending.

Such a policy is wishful thinking and an insult to athletes that have dedicated their lives to representing their country.


If there is no space for athletes, what happens to travelling fans?

There seems to be little thought of any tourists coming to the event, and Al Jazeera has been told that it was a direct policy of DAGOC not to encourage overseas spectators to attend the Games, such is the pressure on accommodation.

With perhaps only a handful of fans attending from outside the country, the possibility of many events being played in empty arenas looms large indeed.

Orry and the ominous countdown

Qataris do not have a culture of attending live sport, with few events attracting any sort of crowd.

It drives one to ask, if the locals won’t watch their own country play, will they have any interest in other nations’ athletes?

There have been strategies put in place to fill venues, teachers and school children are expected to be given holidays during the Games to attend events while the large amount of expatriate construction workers are also expected to be bused in to fill stadiums.


However, some of those stadiums are yet to be finished.

The cycling velodrome and squash centre are still under construction and pressure is mounting to have the construction done in time, indeed the last lick of paint may still be drying as the first athletes take to the courts or track.

The velodrome debacle centres around the fact that organisers were amazingly unaware that one needed to be built.

An anonymous source has confirmed to Al Jazeera that the local committee believed that all cycling would take part on the road and no track was necessary.

Once this was deemed incorrect, a mad scramble to turn Aspire’s indoor football pitch into a velodrome ensued.

The recent Qatar Masters squash tournament was also cancelled due to the venue not being completed. This has led to delays in security work at neighbouring venues.

The scheduling of events has also been thrown into chaos with some teams demanding to be entered at this late stage.

Organisers at the softball have seen a Qatari team claim they would like to be included in the tournament, the fact that the schedule was finalised long ago is of little consequence to the team and an enormous headache to those in charge.


Finally, while not falling under DAGOC’s direct control, the current road network of Qatar must be causing the committee sleepless nights.

Constant road closures, openings, and then more closures has caused chaos on the streets and these will need to be finished in time for the Games for them to have any chance of being hailed a success.

All large events live and die on their ability to move large amounts of spectators, competitors and officials to and from venues and Doha will be no different.

Yes, there is still time, but DAGOC must know that the pressure is on to get Doha ready for the Games of its life.

The world will be watching.

Source: Al Jazeera

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