HE President of the Qatar Olympic Committee Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani speaking to local media upon arrival from Tokyo 2020
HE President of the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani stressed that Qatar's historic achievement in the 32nd Summer Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020, of winning two gold medals and a bronze medal, was the result of the great support of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to Qatari sport.
In an interview with local media, HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani said Qatar’s participation at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in Japan was the best performance in the history of Qatari sports, lauding the gradual increase in the tally of medals and the progress in overall ranking.
The QOC President underlined that the three medals won by Team Qatar at the recent edition of the Games will serve as a springboard for Qatari sport. He also confirmed that the QOC will now look beyond Tokyo 2020 and evaluate Qatar’s participation on both technical and administrative levels to maintain its dominance in future tournaments.
HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani said that as a supportive and founding partner of the Olympic Refuge Foundation, the QOC is ready and excited to provide even more opportunities in this regard, which is why Doha hosted the training camp of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team ahead of Tokyo 2020.
He also revealed that bidding for the right to host the 2030 Asian Games reflects the complete conviction that all factors which would help organise a successful edition of the Games are available in Doha, such as world-class sports facilities and highly-experienced sports officials. He explained that Doha’s successful bid showcases the confidence of Asia in Qatar's ability to host an exceptional edition of the Asian Games.
The QOC President reaffirmed that Doha continues to build a name as a sporting capital of the world, as Qatar was one of the few nations to deliver a significant number of safe and secure sports events during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Firstly, how do you evaluate Qatar's participation in the Summer Olympics in its 32nd edition, Tokyo 2020?
Firstly, I want to congratulate His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and the Qatari people on Team Qatar’s historic achievement. I also want to thank the Qatari athletes, sports federations and all the QOC staff for their faithful efforts that made this accomplishment possible.
A total of 15 athletes have proudly represented Qatar in seven sports at the Olympic Games Tokyo including athletics, weightlifting, beach volleyball, judo, swimming, shooting and rowing.
We can say that our Tokyo 2020 campaign was the best in the history of Qatari sport as we claimed two gold medals for the very first time when Fares Ibrahim won a gold medal in Weightlifting (96kg category) and
Mutaz Barshim took the high jump gold medal. Qatar's beach volleyball duo also clinched the bronze medal which was the first Arabic medal in team events.
Qatar also led the standings of Arab nations at Tokyo 2020, and secured the 41st place in the overall standings of the Games.
I would also like to underline that the goal of our participation in Tokyo was not limited to winning medals, but also included developing the skills of our promising champions and building a new generation of Qatari athletes and teams.
How did you achieve this unprecedented accomplishment in the Olympic Games by winning two gold medals and a bronze medal?
The support of His Highness the Amir of Qatar to Qatari sport is a driving force behind this achievement. It came as a result of many years of planning and effort, even before I assumed the presidency of the QOC. After the Olympic Games Rio 2016, we began evaluating Qatar’s participation in that Games and developed the QOC’s strategic plan for 2017-2022 which is based on three main pillars, including increasing community participation in sport, reviving the Olympic values and ensuring sporting excellence at both local and international levels.
In this regard, I would like to praise the efforts of the QOC secretariat-general in implementing the plans and programmes, as well as the contributions of Team Qatar's administrative delegation during the Games who left no stone unturned to provide our athletes with an ideal environment. Most importantly, we appreciate the tireless work and sacrifices that our athletes have shown in their preparations, discipline and achievements. They have made this accomplishment a reality.
Does winning these three medals mean that you've achieved everything you aspired to at the Olympics?
Before the Games, we were aiming to write a new chapter in the history of Qatari sport by winning a gold medal after we won five medals (one silver medal and four bronze medals) during the previous editions.
We achieved our goal when Fares Ibrahim claimed the weightlifting gold medal which was followed by Mutaz Barshim’s gold medal in the high jump. After this, we turned our attention to Qatar's beach volleyball team Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan who were a clear favourite for an Olympic medal, especially after topping the sport’s world ranking. The Qatari duo didn't let us down and took the bronze medal, which was in fact the first Arab medal in team events.
With this medal tally, Qatar led all other Arab countries during the Games and took 41st place in the overall standings.
Meanwhile, the other Qatari athletes also demonstrated clear signs of improvement during the Games and we are certainly considering this edition of the Games as just the beginning of more achievements to come.
Qatar has participated in many Olympic Games, how do you see team Qatar's benefits from these participations and their impact on Qatari sport?
Qatar's first Olympic Games appearance was in Los Angeles 1984, and we have been represented at every edition of the Games since.
Mohamed Suleiman claimed Qatar’s first-ever bronze medal at the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992 in the 1500m. At Sydney 2000, Said Saif Asaad clinched Qatar’s second Olympic medal when he took the bronze medal in the 105kg weightlifting event.
Qatari sport continued to make great progress, and the development of sport in Qatar soon resulted in two bronze medals at London 2012. Qatar’s Nasser al-Attiyah claimed the bronze medal in the men’s skeet event and Mutaz Barshim won the men’s high jump bronze medal, taking Qatar to 76th place in the overall standings.
In Rio 2016, Mutaz Barshim clinched Qatar's first silver medal as Qatar took the 69th place in the medal table, while in the last edition of the Games in Tokyo, Qatar claimed two historic gold medals and a bronze medal to occupy the 41st place in the overall standings.
Looking at these statistics, Qatar's participation in the Olympic Games is witnessing a significant increase in the tally of medals and gradual progress in the ranking we occupy. Moreover, the last editions of the Games featured the emergence of some promising stars thanks to the planning and the huge efforts made by the former leadership of Qatari sport and are complemented by its current leadership.
Qatar has made great strides in Paralympic sports, can you please tell us about the development of these sports in Qatar, and latest preparations for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo?
Qatar has reaffirmed its great interest in Paralympic sports and the Qatar Paralympic Committee (QPC) is working hard to make us proud in upcoming events. This is aligned with Qatar’s commitment to being an open and accessible country for all.
Qatar made its Paralympic Games debut at the 1996 Summer Paralympic Games in Atlanta. During the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Qatar won two medals when Abdulrahman Abdulqader and Sara Masoud claimed silver medals in the men's and women's shotput events.
Abdulrahman Abdulqader also claimed the gold medal at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships while Sara clinched the silver medal in the same event.
These two champions will represent Qatar at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, so I wish they can do us proud during this edition of the Games. We have also developed a detailed plan to build new generations of Paralympic champions in cooperation with the QPC.
Qatari woman has amazing record of sport achievements, how do you evaluate women sport journey in Qatar?
In the past, Qatari women were performing sports at schools as there was not an entity taking charge of their sport tournaments until the first ever woman sport committee was founded. Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser established the Qatar Women’s Sport Committee as one of the entities affiliated to the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. In 2001, the Committee joined the Qatar Olympic Committee by a decision from HH the President of the QOC to increase women’s participation base and elevate their international participation to new heights.
In the QOC, we believe in equality between men and women in sport and it is the QOC’s long term strategy which will help Qatari women enjoy full rights to practice sports. Qatari women’s debut sport appearance was at the 14th Asian Games in Busan, where they showed great performances and results. Qatari women kept their successful sport run going in the Algeria Arab Games 2004 where they won a number of medals. Two years later, they claimed a number of medals at the Doha 2006 Asian Games. Most notably, Qatar’s women handball team claimed the gold medal in the West Asian Games 2016. Also, Qatari woman raised up the scale of challenges to bring glorious achievements in table tennis, basketball, handball, the latest of them was at the GCC Games held in Kuwait.
At the Olympic Games level, Qatari women's debut appearance was at the Olympic Games London where we fielded four athletes and Qatar’s shooter, Bahiya Al-Hamad, was the county’s flag bearer at the Games. Two Qatari women competed in the rowing and athletics in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 where Tala Abujbara qualified and set a new personal record.
Constant follow-up of the Qatar women sport activities is going ahead as per the QOC strategy.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics is over, do you have any long-term plans to prepare Olympic champions to follow the steps of Mutaz Barshim and Fares Ibrahim and win medals in the future?
Firstly, our three medals that we won in Tokyo will be a new starting point for the Qatar sport movement. Secondly, preparing new Olympic champions needs a big effort and promising talents with the skills to reach international standards and compete in the Olympic Games. We have promising talents and staff in more than one sport, and we are sparing no effort to work cooperatively with the sport federations and Aspire Academy to develop the skills of talented age groups in order to reach similar levels of Mutaz and Fares. We will leave no stone unturned to see other Qatari athletes stepping onto podiums at the next Olympic Games. We know it is not an easy task, but with determination we will make success possible.
We turned the Tokyo page and started evaluating Qatar’s administrative and managerial participation in the Games in our quest to help secure more success and bring greater achievement to Team Qatar. As usual, after any participation in multi-sport games, we assess the level of participation from all perspectives in order to develop positive aspects and solve any negatives (if found). Everyone is responsible for their tasks, and I am also responsible for any defect. Together we shall keep working hard to achieve the QOC’s message and vision as per its strategy.
To make this strategy effective, the QOC has started working tirelessly on its strategy of national teams for the 2030 Asian Games. We are building a strategic frame, setting systematic executive plans to develop the athletes’ performances, improve their personal care, meeting their needs, caring about their educational, professional and health career, as well as following-up on their performance appraisal day by day to ensure that the objectives are met and major outcomes were reached.
Last June, before Tokyo Olympics, the IOC named Doha as a vital center of Covid-19 vaccination services, tell us about that role?
We are very proud of our fruitful cooperation with the IOC in all fields as this cooperation will help us to promote the Olympic Movement worldwide together. We highly appreciated the big efforts made by the IOC and Japanese authorities to organise the Olympic Games in a safe environment.
In regards to the provision of Covid-19 vaccination services to athletes who couldn’t be immunised in their countries of origin, this initiative was positively received by other National Olympic Committees (NOCs). In order to make this initiative possible, the QOC arranged with local authorities like Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Public Health and Hamad International Airport along with international coordination with the IOC and Pfizer Corporation. We’re truly proud to appreciate this amazing cooperation with these authorities, we succeeded to provide vaccination to a number of international athletes, after arriving at Hamad International Airport and holding a short-term training camp in Doha.
There is a strong partnership between the QOC and Olympic Refuge Foundation, Doha has played a host city to the training camp of the refugees Olympic team ahead of their departure to Tokyo, how you see this partnership and training camp?
The QOC is a founding partner of the Olympic Refuge Foundation and we are keen to provide refugees with an opportunity to engage with sport. This initiative came from His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, to name Doha as the host city to 29 members of the Refugee Olympic Team who ultimately competed in 12 sports at Tokyo 2020. During a three-day training camp held at Aspire Zone, those athletes had a workshop on the Olympic Games which was also attended by a number of IOC officials. This training camp was scheduled last year but it was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was the second participation of the Refugee Olympic Team in the Olympic Games as their debut appearance was at Rio 2016. We are truly proud of their impressive performances at Tokyo 2020, they made great performances in athletics, wrestling and other sports. We will keep providing our contributions to the Olympic Refuge Foundation in every possible way. We truly believe in the empowering role sport can play, especially in these challenging times.
Qatar won the rights of hosting the 2030 Asian Games for second time after the 2006 version and unparalleled success QOC had made, so what can Qatar bring to Asia through these Games?
The 2006 Asian Games were a turning point in the history of the Qatar sport movement. It was also a significant turn in the Asian sport landscape, and was praised by many for its world-class technical and organisational level.
We hosted the 2006 Asian Games that produced a lot of talent and administrative staff who are now a key element in the development of Qatar today. Our legacy from the 2006 Asian Games played a crucial role in the progress of the country, which meets with the Qatar 2030 national vision.
Our self-confidence was the driving force behind our desire to host the 2030 Asian Games, because all factors and elements of success we need are available to help up organise an exceptional Games. We have world-class infrastructure, sport facilities, sport venues and highly-motivated administrative staff ready to host one of the biggest sport’s events in the world. Doha’s bid won the right to host the 2030 Asian Games after a tough competition with our brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia, and this win proved Asia’s confidence in Qatar’s organizational assets. The Doha 2006 Asian Games bid impressed not only Asia, but the whole world. I’m confident that the 2030 Asian Games will be a better, greater and more memorable event than ever before.
Now, we are moving forward and ready to organise an exceptional continental event, we have the infrastructure, the accumulated experience, the sports venues, roads and metro networks and Hamad International Airport (HIA), which includes our world leading national carrier, Qatar Airways with its vital flights that link the country with the whole world. Our advanced and sustainable city also has world class plans for the Athletes Village. When we say Doha is Games ready, we truly mean it.
Everyone knows Covid-19 pandemic has hit the whole world dramatically over the last two years, caused the cancellation and postponement of a lot of sport events, but Qatar kept its leading role as it hosted a number of major events, how you did that?
Covid-19 created significant challenges worldwide and affected a lot of sectors, including the sport sector, and it resulted in the cancellation of a lot of tournaments across the world. Amid this unprecedented pandemic, Qatar has constantly proved it is a capital of global sport as it hosted a lot of tournaments. This included the FIFA Club World Cup, AFC Champions league, Diamond League Doha, in addition to a number of continental and international tournaments being organised with effective countermeasures to keep participants safe. On this occasion, I would like to thank the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management and the Ministry of Public Health for their cooperative effort with us as we hosted these tournaments. We are so proud to have these motivated and qualified officials able to deal with the toughest of challenges and obstacles they face.
Most notably, the QOC in its cooperation with the sport federations developed a number of plans to keep the necessary programmes running for clubs and national teams during that period. The QOC’s work pace went on uninterrupted as per the conditions and preventive measures taken to provide safety for all. So, I can say, Qatar is one of the countries that turned the corner to beat the pandemic.
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