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UAE to bid for 2024 Olympic games

Moni Mathews / 30 July 2011

We have a dream today. We have a dream that the United Arab Emirates — a vast sandy desert not long ago — shall host the Olympics, the world’s greatest sporting spectacle, in a few years from now.

This is our hope and faith that the same vision, persistence and hard work of our leaders and people that turned the nation into an oasis of almost all the best in the world, will make the Olympic dream come true.

While confirming that Dubai will not enter a bid for the 2020 Olympic Games, the UAE National Olympic Committee said on Friday a bid would be better timed for 2024. The committee said a feasibility study into Dubai’s capability to host the Olympic Games has concluded that as much as 70 per cent of the hard infrastructure was already in place or planned for such a mega event.

For the many sports lovers here, the bid for the 2024 Olympics will by itself be something to cherish for a long time to come. For the many nationals and expats whose first love is sports, the benefits that will accrue out of an exercise of such magnitude need no special mention.

Infrastructure will see a whole new dimension not only at the playing venues but also in traffic engineering and at the housing complexes made for the Games Village. After a Games, there will be a whole lot of possibilities to work from for a brighter and better future.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, had initiated the process way back in 2008 when he said that the UAE would be a possible contender to host a future Olympics.

In 2009 he formed a special committee under the leadership of Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, to look into the matter.

Shaikh Hamdan said: ‘Hosting the Olympic Games in the Middle East would be a dream come true for the entire region, and we fully intend to place a bid once I am totally satisfied that we are prepared to host the greatest sporting event in the history in a way that would add value to the Olympic movement itself, as well as the youth of the Arab World. Whilst I am satisfied that infrastructure and Dubai’s experience in hosting top class sports events would see us well placed to win a bid, I do believe that much more has to be done in order to leave the lasting human legacy that celebrates the Olympic values.

‘I believe that a concentrated effort must now be made on grass roots sports activities, building our human resources and administrative framework. The Arab Region is known for its hospitality and I do not believe that our region is placing sports as a priority in these turbulent times. Peace is one of the main ambitions of the Olympic movement and has been since the Olympic truce of 776 BC. Our energy needs to go first  and foremost to achieving a just and lasting peace for our youth as the bedrock to a future bid which is most likely for the 2024 Olympic Games.’

In contention for the 2024 bid could be the South African city of Durban and Australia’s Melbourne or Brisbane. Though South Africa’s cabinet has ruled out a 2020 bid by Durban, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has said he will keep lobbying the government.

The first African host of the football World Cup, South Africa, will angle to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games and a 2024 Olympic bid will definitely be made, reports quoted South Africa’s Olympics committee boss Gideon Sam as saying.

According to Australian media reports, Victorian government officials have expressed interest in hosting the 2024 Games in Melbourne city. If Melbourne were to bid to host the Games in 2024 or 2028 it could set the stage for a showdown with Brisbane, with the Queensland city also indicating interest in holding the event, the reports said.

But Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates has ruled out Melbourne or Brisbane bidding for the 2024 Olympic Games. ‘A bid can’t go forward unless the Australian Olympic Committee agrees. I don’t think we would agree to 2024. I just don’t think that that’s realistic. We’d be wasting governments’ money,’ he has been quoted as saying. news@khaleejtimes.com


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