How do we get there
The Olympic Games have never been held in the Middle East but in June Dubai launched a feasibility study on becoming the host city for the 2020 games. Here brownbook explores what our home city needs to do to hold sports’ largest event and more importantly what it needs to do to create future gold medalists.
We also look at the positive impacts hosting the Olympic Games could have on the country’s youngsters and the health of the nation.
The UAE and the Gulf have played host to big athletic and world events in the past decade with prime examples being the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar and Dubai’s hosting of the IMF’s annual conference in 2003.
These events gave the two cities the chance to exercise their hosting abilities and prove that they have the capacity to host more large scale events in the future.
And it was with this in mind that Dubai began preparation to bid for the 2016 Olympics. However, the bid was not submitted in time for the 2007 deadline and a fresh bid has now been made for the 2020 games.
In June Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai launched a new initiative to explore the emirate’s potential to host the World Expo and the Olympic and and Paralympic Games in 2020.
Dubai has set up an exploratory committee under the entity of Falcon and Associates, chaired by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai with Sheikh Ahmad bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum as the Vice-Chairman.
If the 18-month feasibility study by the Government and private sector is positive Dubai will hand in a formal bid to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The study group is led by the former IOC communications director Giselle Davies, who will also explore Dubai’s potential to hold the World Expo in the same year.
If successful, it would be the first time these two events would be held in the Middle East and would unite the fields of business, science and technology with sport, education and culture.
“We need to engage our community here in Dubai and the UAE in a discussion about our vision and everyone’s role in our future,” said Sheikh Mohammed about Dubai 2020.
“For this we need a clear, common goal that highlights shared universal human values.
“The Dubai 2020 initiative will look at how we can shape our society for for future generations.
“Dubai is already home to people from different nationalities and cultures who live in friendship and peace. And I believe we can deepen this respect and mutual understanding if we work together to achieve something spectacular and meaningful.”
Dubai is looking to host this event as a national affair and as stated by Sheikh Mohammed the aim is to bring the people of the UAE closer and could
encourage federal support for an event such as this. Dubai’s bid could also reignite the building boom that has taken place over the last five years. But the Olympics is an event on a level of its own and there needs to be a lot of detailed planning and nothing can not be overlooked. Although 2020 is
11 years away, now is the time to start planning. Making sure that the city is geared to host the best athletes in the world is in an important undertaking and focusing on security, making sure that we have enough world class venues is key to its success.
Weather is another aspect that Dubai needs to focus on. Hosting the Olympics in the suffocating heat will surely not allow athletes to perform at their best, given that the the Olympics takes place in the summer the city needs to find unique ways to combat the heat.
Having said this it is quite hot in other Olympic 2020 bidding cities like Delhi, Doha and Kuala Lumpur. Doha, in its failed bid for 2016, had proposed holding the Summer Olympics from October 14 to 30 and the Paralympics from November 9 to 21. The Sydney Olympics in 2000 were put back to September from the usual July schedule, so where there’s a will there’s a way.
During any Olympic event hundreds of thousands of fans tune in and flock to host cities to attend specific events and participate, not mentioning the thousands of athletes, coaches and support staff.
These participants need a world class transportation infrastructure to get to venues and back.
The cost of events such as the Olympics ranges between $1.5 billion to $5bn. Athens spent $9bn for the 2004 Olympics with operational and infrastructure elements taken into consideration.
Out of all the cities in the middle east, Dubai has the best chance to host the event in the region. As a city it played host to the 2003 IMF event, sidestepping major social and political issues while understanding the limitations and advantages of the city, this experience is immeasurable, giving it an advantage over many other cities in the region.
The other advantage that the city has is a strong public transportation system, albeit very new, but by the time the Olympic games comes around the city of Dubai should have mastered this very important element.
Another important advantage over the other countries in the region is the fact the UAE has a gold medal.In Athens 2004 Sheikh Ahmad Mohammad Hasher Al Maktoum became the UAE’s first Olympic gold medallist. The UAE shooter equalled the Olympic record in the double trap.
We might not understand the importance of such a thing but being a holder of a gold medal sends a strong message to the region and the world of the country’s potential.
The UAE has had many strong athletes in various fields (see brownbook issue 5) but being able to win gold medal is a very important message to the world in comparison India has participated in every Olympic event and only won its first gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The UAE participated in equestrian, judo, sailing, shooting, swimming and taekwondo in Beijing and although it did not win any medals the UAE has the potential to win gold in future shooting and Taekwondo events.
Dubai does not only have a long way to go to build world class venues it also needs to focus on cultivating world class athletes. The country needs serious programmes to push emiratis to get involved in athletic events that instill an understand that we can push physical boundaries as a nation.
Interntional standard venues such as Dubai Sports City will help. As will the new swimming complex at Dubailand which will be the venue for next year’s Fina world short course championships and the 2013 Fina World Championships, beating bids from Hamburg (Germany) and Moscow (Russia).
The complex, which is yet to be named, features three pools, an Olympic size pool with 10 lanes, a 25m pool and a diving pool.
But at the moment Dubai residents are constantly frustrated with the fact that there are not enough venues for basic indoor sports such as handball. So the Olympics could be a catalyst for change.
However, as we know from previous experience, venues can be built quickly to meet requirements of the IOC. With Rugby Sevens and Golf hoping to be
included at the London 2012 this would be a bonus for Dubai as it already hosts the Rugby Sevens World Cup and a number of PGA tournaments.
Added to this is the fact that the UAE has the right leadership to focus on issues that matter and is focused on improving the quality of life of its residents. This will all help when the UAE is looking for the votes to play to become the host city.
One very important element is the philosophy of sport in the country, which needs to be improved.
As winners of a gold medal we need more role models in the UAE to push the younger generation to understand that this is a viable career option. In order for for this to be a reality we need federal programmes that will compensate athletes in a way where they do not
need to choose a career path that is solely based on financial goals, but they can exist as athletes without worrying about money.
We need to emphasis the message that an Olympic gold medalist is as important, if not more so, thanbeing the CEO of the UAE’s biggest companies.
The Olympics can send another message in to the UAE which is rampant with deceases that based on immobility.
We need to move as a nation, diabetes, cardiovascular decease and cholesterol will reach unacceptable levels if the city doesn’t reverse the mentality and kick start a programme that educates the nation on the importance of moving. We at brownbook believe that the UAE needs to endorse a message to the nation through the Olympics of the importance of combating cardiovascular deceases through exercising.