Browsing 'olympics' News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Shawn Carpenter/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

More than 1,200 delegates are arriving in Qatar this week to discuss who will host the 2024 Olympics.

This is the first time the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) will hold its General Assembly in the Gulf.

The assembly opens tomorrow, Nov. 15 at Doha’s Sheraton Grand hotel.

ANOC in Doha

ANOC Olympic/Facebook

ANOC in Doha

The three 2024 candidate cities are Los Angeles, Budapest and Paris, whose delegates will be bidding and discussing their offerings in front of the association.

This will be one of only three chances for them to do so before a decision is made next year.

After two failed bids, Qatar scrapped plans to try to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, but has expressed interest in the 2028 tournament.

In a statement this week, ANOC President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah said:

“Over the past few years, Doha has showcased its impressive credentials in hosting major sporting events and the Qatari capital offers the perfect environment for the world’s NOCs to unite together in the spirit of sport.”

Qatar’s Olympic dreams

Qatar formally applied to host the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics, but faced criticism due to its intense summer heat.

The bid team proposed moving the games to October, but the country still ultimately failed to make the short-list of contenders both times.

Men's Handball Championships opener

Ray Toh

Men\’s Handball Championships opener

Since then however, Qatar has hosted a slew of major international sporting events. That includes last year’s Men’s Handball World Championship and the AIBA World Boxing Championships.

Its biggest hosting challenge will be the World Cup in 2022, which will leave Qatar with stadiums and training facilities that officials hope can be reused during the Olympics.

The bidding process for the next summer games (2028) is expected to start in 2019, and officials have expressed interest in putting Qatar’s name in the ring.

However, hosting such competitions is expensive and it is unclear how new austerity measures could affect such a decision.

Growing ties

Among those in town for this week’s ANOC event are International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, delegates from international sports federations and representatives from 205 National Olympic Committees.

Emir in Los Angeles

QNA

Emir in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will also be in town on his first official visit since he last saw Emir Sheikh Tamim in Los Angeles a few months ago.

At the time of that September visit, Qatar’s ambassador to the US stated that the visit was aimed at “further enhancing relations between Qatar & California.”

Garcetti will also be presenting LA’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics, which will be decided in September 2017.

Thoughts?

Qatar and Olympic flags flying in Rio

QNA

Qatar and Olympic flags flying in Rio

Though the Summer Olympics have wrapped up in Rio, the widespread debate about Qatar and other countries’ use of non-homegrown athletes continues.

In this opinion piece, Dr. Justin Thomas, associate professor of psychology at Zayed University in the UAE, argues that maybe it’s time athletes simply compete as individuals, rather than represent an entire nation.

There have been a few eyebrows raised about the fact that almost 60 percent of Qatar’s Olympic delegation was born outside of the country.

Earlier this month, the Washington Post ran an article with the headline, “Qatar wanted an Olympics team. So it recruited one from 17 other countries.”

But why is this seen as such a big deal?

In the modern world, few events evoke such powerful feelings of national pride as the Olympics.

Seeing a person draped in your national flag, singing your national anthem, as they ascend the stairway to national hero/heroine status, can make you swell with national pride.

Globalization

But, in our shrunken, globalized world, ideas about nationality and citizenship are changing rapidly.

Increasingly, the person representing a country at the Olympics wasn’t born in that country, and they may have only very recently become a citizen of the nation they now represent.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Shawn Carpenter/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar is far from being the only country that is represented by naturalized athletes.

In the 2012 London Olympics, the UK recruited more foreign-born athletes than ever before; and lest we forget, 2012 was a particularly good games for Team GB.

Unfair practice?

Critics of the practice of naturalizing foreign athletes can get pretty wound up about it.

Back in 2012, some uncharitable commentators began referring to Team GB’s foreign-born athletes as “plastic-Brits.”

Similarly, oil-rich Azerbaijan was heavily criticized for fielding a 2012 Olympic team that contained over 50 naturalized-citizens.

Opponents of this practice argue that fielding recently naturalized-citizens dampens the emotional spirt of the games.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Paul Hudson/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

There likely won’t be any patriotic tears if the guy wearing gold on the podium can’t speak the national language, and is hearing his new national anthem for the first time.

Others are against the practice because they fear wealthy nations will snap up all the best talent, resulting in national Olympic teams becoming as international as a typical English Premier League football club.

Like the rich football clubs of Europe, some Olympic teams will come to dominate certain events, not through the power of passion and perseverance, but through the self-perpetuating power of the purse.

The other side

But there is another side to this argument.

There are people who think the Olympics would be improved by relaxing its focus on citizenship.

Why do athletes need to represent countries, anyway?

I can play for Manchester Uniter football club without being born in Manchester.

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Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Why can’t Olympians just compete against each other without any reference to a nation?

When Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold in 2002, it was Johnson who was stripped of the medal. It was Johnson who was shamed, not Canada.

Focusing on the athletes and not their countries actually fits with the current Olympic charter.

Article 6 states: “The Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries.”

Another argument in favor of relaxed citizenship rules at the Olympics is that it would help circumvent the current national quota system.

If you were the fifth best Javelin thrower in the world, but couldn’t get a seat on the Olympic bus because the top-four ranked throwers happened to be your compatriots, you might be very happy to compete under another flag.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Ray Toh

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

As for team events, they could simply comprise of individuals from various nations. This would probably improve competition and break up the monopoly on Gold that some nations presently have.

As our world shrinks from global village to global villa, there are some who see the idea of the nation state as being just a little dated.

In his book The End of the Nation State, Japanese management consultant Kenichi Ohmae suggested that “the nation state is increasingly a nostalgic fiction.”

Perhaps the increase in naturalized citizens competing in the Olympics is just an example of sport imitating reality.

Thoughts?


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this Opinion article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Doha News’ editorial policy.

Qatar and Olympic flags flying in Rio

QNA

Qatar and Olympic flags flying in Rio

Qatar’s 2016 Olympic medal aspirations in Rio concluded last night with two of its athletes achieving notable ranks in the equestrian and hammer throw competitions.

However, both fell short of winning any medals.

Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani qualified for the Equestrian Individual Jumping earlier in the week and completed the finals on Friday with an overall rank of sixth.

Earlier this week, 21-year-old Ashraf Elseify qualified for the men’s hammer throw final with a throw of 73.47m.

And yesterday, Elseify tossed 75.46m, ranking sixth overall.

Meanwhile, the men’s handball team went to the quarterfinals, but lost to Germany 34 to 22.

First silver

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the games for Qatar was when high-jumper Mutaz Barshim won the country’s first silver Olympic medal.

The 25-year-old jumped 2.36m to claim the victory and celebrated at Bayt Qatar in Rio with fans and officials alike.

In a statement, Barshim said:

“None of this would have been possible without the help of my parents, everyone in my country and God. I felt like the whole nation was behind me, supporting me every step of the way. This medal is for each and every one of you! I’m incredibly happy. Thank you!”

Across the Gulf

Though Qatar only won one medal this year, it fared better than Saudi Arabia and Oman, which were unable to clinch any.

It also did better than the UAE, which claimed a bronze in Judo.

Meanwhile, Kuwait was disqualified from competing due to government interference in sports federations.

However, two of its athletes took home gold while competing independently, in men’s double trap and men’s shooting skeet.

Finally, Bahrain took home a gold and silver for track & field.

Thoughts?