Qatar wins hosting rights for 2019 World Championships in Athletics

IAAF / World Championships in Sports

Doha has been designated the host city of one of the globe’s largest sporting events – the World Championships in Athletics in 2019.

Qatar’s capital beat out Barcelona and the American city of Eugene for hosting rights to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) tournament this afternoon, following presentations by all three bidders in Monaco.

The news was quick to spread through social media:

Among those who pitched for Doha under the slogan “Connecting the world of athletics” was Mutaz Barshim, a rising Qatari athlete who is an Olympic bronze medalist and world silver medalist.

Hurdler Mariam Farid also spoke, explaining in French the role that athletics plays in empowering women in the region.

The event, which typically runs for slightly more than a week, attracted nearly 2,000 athletes – plus their coaches, fans as well as sports journalists – to Russia in 2013, according to the IAAF.

Mark Kirchner/Flickr

The World Championships feature various track and field disciplines including sprints, a marathon, high jump and javelin throwing, among others.

The actual events will be centered around Khalifa International Stadium, which is currently being renovated, while the IAAF Congress will be held at the Qatar National Convention Center.

In the run-up to the decision, Qatar was largely considered the favorite as host.

However, when Qatar announced in April its plan to enter the running, there were concerns about its summer heat, since the tournament is typically held in August/September.

But the country’s final presentation to the IAAF today proposed hosting the event in late September and early October.

Night marathon concept.

Doha 2019/Facebook

Night marathon concept.

While presented as a way of making the tournament “a grand finale” of the athletics season, it also headed off concerns about the country’s warm climate that have dogged Qatar as it prepares for the 2022 World Cup.

Many human rights activists have used the football tournament’s international spotlight to highlight the living and working conditions of migrant laborers in Qatar.

Critics of Qatar’s IAAF bid had also called on the sporting body to demand authorities do more to end abuses of foreign workers as a condition of the Gulf country hosting the championships.

While the World Cup is the most high-profile sporting event planned for Qatar, the country is increasingly building its brand as a destination for international athletic events.

In addition to hosting events such as the 2006 Asian Games and FINA swimming championships, Qatar continues to pour resources into the Aspire Zone, which includes athletic venues as well as sports medicine facilities and is set to be expanded in the coming years.

“We have worked very hard in developing athletics,” Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the secretary general of the Qatar Olympic Committee, told IAAF delegates today. “We are ready to move to the next step and organize a real world championship.”

The last IAAF world championships was last held in Russia in 2013. Qatar finished with a single silver medal, which was won by Barshim in the high jump event, tying the country for 26th place among the 38 participating countries.

Looking forward

According to the IAAF, the biennial world championships is the third largest sporting event in the world based on the number of participating nations, teams (more than 200), athletes (over 2,000) and television viewership.

Qatar Olympic Committee

With both the 2019 IAAF championships and the 2022 World Cup under its belt, it’s likely that Doha will have a better chance of winning hosting rights to the Olympics.

Qatar has repeatedly bid for the world’s largest sporting event without success, but said it would continue to try to win it again for 2024.

The next IAAF world championships will be held in 2015 in Beijing, and then in 2017 in London.

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