x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Dubai preparing to launch bid for 2024 Olympics

Take our poll: A member of the National Olympic Committee confirms to The National at the Host Cities Summit held at Meydan that they will be bidding for the 2024 Games.

Khadija Mohammad competed in the women's 75kg weightlifting at the London Games. Cathal McNaughton / Reuters
Khadija Mohammad competed in the women's 75kg weightlifting at the London Games. Cathal McNaughton / Reuters

DUBAI // Dubai will bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics as soon as an expected go-ahead from the Government comes through, a top official of the UAE National Olympic Committee said yesterday.

"Our bidding has started already," Abdulrahman Falaknaz, the NOC finance director, told The National.

"The UAE has the infrastructure, capability, manpower and know-how to host such events. There is pressure on cities when they host huge events like the Olympics, but Dubai and the UAE can take it.

"We have staged events before; the International Monetary Fund annual meeting in 2003, which everyone thought was fantastic. We had the World Youth Cup in [the UAE in 2003] and recently the F1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, one of the best in the world.

"I can assure you that our bid will be a comprehensive and winning bid."

A Dubai Olympics would be history-making; no city from the Middle East or the Muslim world, as yet, has hosted the event.

Falaknaz revealed that representatives from Dubai have been consulting senior figures from past host cities of the biggest event in sports.

"We have been talking to Olympic cities like Sydney, Beijing and London, which we had a very close relationship with," he said. "Everybody has to learn all the time, and we are learning."

Despite initial interest, Dubai did not enter the bidding for the 2020 Olympics; the winner will come from a shortlist of just three cities, Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid, and will be announced by the International Olympic Committee in September 2013.

Bidding for 2024 will start in 2015, with the winners announced by the IOC in 2017.

Eighteen cities are thought to be preparing a bid for 2024, including Paris, Berlin, Rome, St Petersburg, Toronto, Guadalajara, Dallas, Los Angeles, Nairobi, Casablanca, Durban and Taipei City. Only a few are likely to bid formally.

Doha, Qatar, also is expected to join the 2024 race, having not been selected as a finalist candidate city for the 2020 games. Falaknaz welcomes the probability of a neighbouring bid, saying: "Qatar is a friend. If they win it, then fine. We'll share our knowledge and help each other. We recently received a delegation from the Qatar Olympic committee and we shared views."

Asked what Dubai still needs to do, Falaknaz said: "To bid is one thing, to be successful another and then to run the event another. We need to work on hotel accommodation and roads. We have already opened the Metro here and that will link up with Abu Dhabi."

The Olympic Games are awarded to a single city, but asked about the prospect of them being awarded to a wider region, Falaknaz said: "It could be better because the expenses would be divided. The expenses for the Olympic Games are more than the revenues, especially with the security costs. The security for Athens [in 2004] cost more than the entire past Olympic Games. Security in the UAE will be No 1, and there is stability in the area."

Falaknaz was a guest at Host Cities Summit, a gathering in Dubai of some of the world's leading sports administrators to discuss emerging nations hosting top sports events.

The two-day summit concludes today at the Meydan Racecourse and features speakers from Russia's and Qatar's successful bids to stage the football World Cup in 2018 and 2022, respectively. Advice was given to countries or cities who hope to attract top events.

"The storyline has changed when it comes to staging sporting events," said Dr Danny Jordaan, who was crucial in bringing the 2010 World Cup to South Africa. "Now and in the future it will be about emerging nations.

"The economic growth of a city should be linked to staging big events, otherwise it's a questionable investment."

There was no shortage of other advice.

"Deal with the detail," said Carter Pate, chief executive of MV Transportation. "Infrastructure and governance is vital, then you have to address any perceptions which outsiders have."

"Link your bid to meaningful youth development," advised Heidi Ueberroth of the NBA.

"Make sure you know what you want and that you have the ability to deliver," said Tom Fox, the chief commercial officer of the Arsenal football club.

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