Doha braces for the Games

Doha is ready to showcase its ambition.

    The view from Mr Ahmed Abdulla al Khulaifi office offers the vast skyline of Doha; what is striking is the amount of new construction and just how much of it is emblazoned with the logos of the 15th Asian Games.

    There is no question that the Asian Games have presented a massive challenge for the small Gulf country of Qatar, but with the opening ceremony just 15 days away the organizing committee is confident that athletes and spectators with enjoy "the games of your life".

    The Deputy Director General of Corporate Support, Mr Ahmed Abdulla al Khulaifi, spoke exclusively to Al Jazeera English about the preparations for the games and what the city can expect during the two weeks in December.

    The first athletes and officials of a predicted 30,000 have already started descending on Doha.

    The temporary airport and athlete's village have begun accepting their guests and despite reports of accommodation problems, al Khulaifi is confident everything will go to plan.

    "We signed a contract for 10,000 beds, we increased that to 11,000 to ensure we would have enough space, we are confident that if the countries manage their numbers correctly, there should be no problem," al Khulafi explained.

    Mr Ahmed Abdulla al Khulaifi: focused on

    He also pointed that the usual fees for accommodation had been waivered and the accommodation bill was being absorbed by the country of Qatar, perhaps a reason why numbers had swelled with many teams.

    The organisers also faced an accommodation headache with the Games not having any qualification events which means countries can theoretically send anyone to compete who feels the urge.

    This is something the Asian Federation must look into before the next games to assist the host countries.

    Accepting the challenge

    However, this isn't something the organisers want to dwell on, rather they are focused on showcasing Qatar to the world.

    "Some countries weren't sure if Qatar could accept the challenge of hosting the Asian Games, but we are committed to exceeding all expectation," Mr al Khulaifi says, with the enthusiasm tangible in his voice.

    "We chose the motto 'the games of your life' because we wanted to show the world and the Asian countries that Qatar is small but it can host such an event.

    "We want people to remember Qatar."

    Despite admitting that many Qataris have little interest in sport in their day-to-day lives, ticket sales have proven that many are keen to embrace the games and the opportunities they provide.

    "We have been very happy with ticket sales and are aiming for 70 per cent capacity.The swimming and diving has been the most popular and we should see full house at each event," al Khulaifi predicted.

    The number of volunteers has also exceeded expectations.

    Organisers needed to sift through more than 30,000 applications for the 16,000 spots, with many resorting to bombarding committee members with text messages and phone calls in order to make the final cut.

    The remodelling of Qatar has been an ambitious project, yet it is that sort of ambition which it is hoped is remembered for a long time to come.

    So the stage has been set, the hard work done - now let the action unfold.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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