x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dubai's Olympic wait will be worth it, officials say

Dubai's decision to not try for the 2020 Olympics will provide time for an improved 2024 bid and can give the Emirates time to build youth sports, a National Olympic Committee official says.

Dubai has hosted many big sporting events such as the 10th Fina World Swimming Championships at the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex last December.
Dubai has hosted many big sporting events such as the 10th Fina World Swimming Championships at the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex last December.

Dubai decided against bidding for the 2020 Olympics to give itself time to prepare for an even better Games in 2024, a National Olympic Committee (NOC) official says.

Saeed Abdul Ghaffar, the secretary general of the NOC, yesterday said the pressure on Dubai to get it right was particularly great because no Arab country had hosted the Games.

"Dubai will represent the Arab world at the Olympics," Mr Ghaffar said. "If we are successful for Dubai to host the event, it will be a historical event. It will be the first time for the Middle East."

While logistics were in place for an Olympics in 2020, Dubai would be "even more ready" by 2024, he said.

Organisers would also have a chance to study the 2020 Games, the location for which will be decided in Buenos Aires in September 2013.

"We want to do it professionally and not just host the event," Mr Ghaffar said.

"It is not strange for Dubai to host a big event- it has hosted many big events - but when it comes to the Olympics, there is a need to make big preparations."

He said it would also be helpful to have 13 years in which to build up youth sports.

"All generations need to work for the UAE and for the UAE's name," Mr Ghaffar said.

"There is a need for a lot of encouragement to get people into sports in the next few years if Dubai is to host the Olympics. The announcement in itself should be a message to youth to work from now and to help the UAE."

He said sport needed to be held in higher regard by the Arab world.

"In Europe and America, they always work hard for sport and for their future," Mr Ghaffar said.

Sports club managers from across the country have expressed excitement over the recent announcement, agreeing a later bid would be better. But they said preparations needed to start as soon as possible.

Tarek Souei, the technical manager of Al Ain Sports and Cultural Club, said more investment in developing sportspeople was needed.

"[The UAE] should also compete in the Olympics," Mr Souei said. "Awareness needs to increase in private and public sectors to get people involved."

He said people would be needed to help in financing and running the event. Sports clubs could also play their part.

"Experts from different clubs can be used [and] infrastructure, human resources and equipment," Mr Souei said. "Everyone will be talking about the Emirates. It will help market the country."

Colin Ewing, the manager of the Sharjah Wanderers Sports Club, agreed.

"There needs to be effort from everybody. There needs to be a lot of co-ordination," Mr Ewing said.

Ahmed Al Kamali, the president of the UAE Athletics Association and a member of the NOC, said preparations would only begin if the bid was successful.

"When it is finalised, then we can decide what the preparations will be," Mr Al Kamali said, adding the federation would do whatever the Government required of it.

"Now the preparation time is much better."

Winning would be a "great honour for the UAE", Mr Ghaffar said.

"Dubai is part of the UAE. If Dubai hosts the event, so does the UAE," he said.

Mr Ghaffar said that Qatar's successful bid to host the Fifa World Cup in 2022 showed "nothing is impossible".

"A lot of countries have hosted the Olympics, so why not us?" he asked.

osalem@thenational.ae