A bid by Qatar to host the Olympics was inevitable but the tiny Gulf state has not yet decided which summer Games it will bid for, the head of the country’s most powerful sports organisation said on Monday.
Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Secretary General and CEO of the Qatar Olympic Committee, told AFP that no final decision had been made on bidding for the 2024 games.
However, he added that even if Qatar chose not to try to host the Olympics in nine years’ time, that would not end the energy-rich state’s ambitions of hosting one of the world’s two biggest sporting events.
“We don’t know if we are going to bid for ’24 (2024), but bidding for the Olympics it will be, I mean, either ’24, ’28 or ’32,” he said.
“But for the ’24 we have not made the decision yet. The decision will hopefully be before September.”
He added that it was “not a matter of Qatar wanting to bid, it’s a time when Qatar wants to choose to bid.”
Asked if a bid was “inevitable” and just a matter of timing, he responded: “Exactly.”
The bidding process for the 2024 games has already begun, with Rome and Boston already declaring their interest in hosting the Games.
Qatar, which was controversially awarded the 2022 World Cup, has long been predicted to join the list of bidders and there has even been speculation that it would co-host the event with another Gulf country.
The International Olympic Committee made a public call for bids on January 15 this year and IOC president Thomas Bach visited Qatar earlier this month.
Hosting such an event is prohibitively expensive for many countries but this would not be a problem for Qatar, one of the richest countries in the world.
However, if Qatar did win the right to host the Olympics it would no doubt also prove controversial because of the country’s record on labour and human rights.
Countries have until September 15 to make a first official application but heavyweight campaigns are already being built up.
Germany is also expected to enter the race, through Berlin or Hamburg. Other cities which could bid include Durban in South Africa, Istanbul and possibly Paris, although the French capital may be hampered by financial constraints.
Qatar has already unsuccessfully bid for the 2016 and 2020 Games.
Speaking at a press conference in Lusail, north of the Qatari capital Doha, which is currently playing host to the men’s World Handball Championships, Sheikh Saoud added that even if Qatar were to get the Olympics, it would still continue trying to host other events.
“If we host the Olympics, we will not stop. Qatar will continue. We are not building infrastructure to leave it.”