AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023: Qatar's Sports Diplomacy is Safe Haven, Shining Face of Asian Football

AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023: Qatar's Sports Diplomacy is Safe Haven, Shining Face of Asian Football By A Robin - May 10, 2023
Qatar 2022

Qatar 2022

The State of Qatar has made great strides in sports diplomacy, the latest of which was the honor of hosting the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, which comes as a continuation of the successes it has achieved in recent years on various sports levels, especially the organization of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the best edition in the history of the world cup tournaments ever.

In recent years, Qatari sports diplomacy has become a safe haven and a shining face for world football in general and Asian football in particular, in light of its enormous abilities and capabilities at all levels, be it infrastructure or human resource to make Qatar the magic solution always in getting out of crises and dealing with urgent matters regarding the organization of tournaments and hosting events.

Qatar's hosting of the 2023 Asian Nations Cup came as a continuation of the successes it has achieved in recent years in various sports fields, after China relinquished their rights for organizing the event, which was to be held in 10 Chinese cities during the period from June 16 to July 16 this year, with the participation of 24 national teams.

The State of Qatar has a proven record in hosting and organizing regional, continental and international tournaments in recent years, starting with the organization of the FIFA Youth World Cup in 1995, through the Asian Games in 2006, the Arab Games in 2011, the World Handball Championship in 2015, followed in the same year by the World Boxing Championship, then the World Swimming Championship in 2018, the World Athletics Championship in 2019, as well as the ANOC World Beach Games in the same year, and finally the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Furthermore, Qatar is gearing up to host other major tournaments, most notably the World Judo Championship, which is currently being held at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena until the fourteenth of May, the World Water Games Championship scheduled February 2 to 18, 2024, the Asian Football Confederation Championship in 2024, the Basketball World Championship in 2027, and the Asian Games in 2030 for the second time after hosting the 2006 edition.

Apart from the sporting events organized by Doha and made it the focus of the world's attention, Qatar has been a safe haven at a time of crisis for many continental and international tournaments during the recent period, most notable of which was the AFC Champions League in 2020, when Qatar saved the tournament from cancellation due to the Covid-19 pandemic that swept the whole world, after it hosted the western and eastern continental competitions and the final match of the tournament, to confirm its tremendous organizational capabilities in various situations and under the most difficult circumstances.

Under strict health conditions, (health bubble), Qatar succeeded in producing the Asian Champions League in a remarkable and impressive way, as it held the final match of the competition between the South Korean Ulsan Hyundai and Iranian Persepolis (2-1), on December 19, on the second day of the country's celebrations of the National Day, to confirm that what it seeks to present, goes beyond sports and reaches the stage of sending messages to peoples about the value of sport and its role in human life, and that work and diligence is the secret of success.

At the same time and on the evening of December 18, Qatar held the final match of the HH the Amir Football Cup, between Al Sadd and Al Arabi (2-1), with 50 percent of the capacity of the stadium, where 20 thousand fans attended the match in a safe atmosphere, while all matches in all world leagues were held in empty stadiums, which confirms Qatar's capabilities to adapt crises and control emergency matters.

Just as how it saved the Asian Confederation from canceling the Champions League competition, Qatar saved FIFA, from cancelling the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup, when Qatar Football Association (QFA) gave the FIFA all the guarantees for the success of the event, holding the sporting event under safe health conditions that preserve the lives of the players, as well as the spectators who flocked to attend the matches, of the championship, which was won by Germany's Bayern Munich after beating Mexico's Tigres Onal (2-1) in the final match.

Qatar being a safe haven for various tournaments was the biggest supporter of Qatar's bid to host the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, after China relinquished their rights for organizing the event due to a new outbreak of COVID in the country. Therefore, the Qatari bid, which was originally intended for hosting the 2027 finals, was successful, especially with the successive withdrawals of Australia, Indonesia and South Korea from the race.

Organizing the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 enhanced the chances of the Qatari bid for the hosting of the continental championship, which was launched in 1956, for the third in its history, after hosting the editions of 1988 and 2011. The bid was supported by the well-established infrastructure and logistic aspects, in addition to Dohas great legacy in sports facilities and expertise gained through hosting many different sporting events over the past years.

According to remarks made by AFC officials, the Qatari bid succeeded in winning the hosting right for three main reasons agreed upon by everyone, even the competitors in other bids. These are Qatars capabilities and record in hosting major sporting events; Qatars highly appreciated and meticulous attention to fine details in organization, and the short time available to prepare for hosting the event after Chinas withdrawal. This came in the interest of the Qatari bid, which is supported by the world-class infrastructure that hosted the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and the high organizational capabilities, which confirms Doha's readiness to present a wonderful edition commensurate with the value and status of the most important tournaments in the Asian continent.

Successful Qatari sports diplomacy over the past years has covered not only football, but also other games, which was clearly evident in 2019 when Doha was credited with bringing the first edition of the World Beach Games (ANOC) to light after it assumed responsibility and agreed to host the games only three months ahead, as the US city of San Diego pulled out.

Despite the tight time window and the difficulties of providing the necessary atmosphere for the various beach games competitions, Qatar showed unprecedented efficiency and was able, within less than a few months, to prepare the necessary and appropriate infrastructure for the success of the tournament, in which more than 1,200 male and female athletes, representing 97 National Olympic Committees, participated.

During the COVID pandemic, the State of Qatar was also a safe resort for the Chinese men's and women's table tennis teams, who were unable to return to their country due to the outbreak of the pandemic. The team, which comprised 29 top ranked athletes (15 males and 14 females), along with several coaches and officials, were hosted in a camp for a full month in Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence, to confirm the State of Qatars keenness and appreciation for sports and athletes around the world.

Against the background of the successive crises in Afghanistan, the State of Qatar has also hosted more than 150 Afghan athletes and sports workers along with their families, including 50 female football players and their relatives, in coordination with the FIFA, after they were evacuated from their country.

Through its humanitarian and social legacy programmes, the State of Qatar provided support to Afghan refugees by organizing sports activities and daily events in their temporary residence in Doha, in order to help them overcome the challenges they faced, with the aim of helping the participants learn basic life skills, such as successful leadership, acceptance of diversity, equal rights, and teamwork.

Moving from its firm belief in the need to utilize sports in promoting peace, stability and sustainable development, and the need to take effective steps to ensure that Afghans practice sports and participate in sports tournaments and mechanisms through which educational opportunities can be supported, especially for women and girls in the country, Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) hosted the second meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) with representatives of the Afghan Olympic Committee and the General Administration of Physical Education and Sports in Afghanistan.


By A Robin - May 10, 2023

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