Have the World Championships in Doha given any clues how Qatar will fare as World 2022 host?
By Geraint Hughes
Last Updated: 08/10/19 9:36am
Have the Athletics World Championships in Doha given us any clues as to how Qatar will fare as host of the 2022 World Cup?
Sky Sports News reporter Geraint Hughes reports after spending 10 days at the championships.
"Lessons to be learned for sure for Qatar 2022."
The words of Dahlan Al Hamad from the organising committee of the Doha World Athletics Championships who has presided over an eventful 10 days at the Khalifa Stadium.
The poor attendances over several days in the Khalifa Stadium, a venue for the World Cup, will have raised an eyebrow or two from Qatar 2022. Could that happen to them?
I didn't get the chance to ask any senior spokespeople from Qatar 2022 about what they could learn from the World Athletics Championships. I had hoped to during my time in Qatar to have heard their views and responses to issues such as worker's rights, corruption claims and LGBT rights. Unfortunately an interview didn't materialise which is a shame as it would have been an opportunity to have Qatar 2022 provide balance. There are always two sides to any story.
Stadiums looking on track
What I can tell you of what I saw in Qatar is that the stadiums will be ready in plenty of time. All eight of them which form a layout much more akin to an Olympic Games. It's incredibly compact, the furthest distance from any two stadia is just 55km. More of a contrast from the previous two World Cups is not possible! England fans do you remember Manaus at Brazil 2014? And Nizhny-Novgorod and the 12-hour train journey from Moscow last year?
The Lusail Stadium, rising from the ground daily, will undoubtedly look incredible when completed at the end of next year. The 80,000-seater arena will host Qatar 2022's opening game and the final.
Workers' conditions appear up to standard
While there I did get to look at the workers' accommodation which is on site.
From what I saw, and I must make clear I was taken there by Qatar 2022, the blocks looked clean and spacious, food was plentiful and I got a few waves and smiles. Qatar 2022 project manager Tamim Al Abed was at pains to point out that things have vastly changed when it comes to the rights and conditions of migrant workers on Qatar 2022 building projects saying the exploitation is long gone, workers do not pay a fee to an unscrupulous 'middle men' just to get a job, they are paid on time and electronically while living & leisure conditions are of high international standards. Contrast that with recent Amnesty International reports which raised concerns about the exploitation of workers who refurbished the Khalifa Stadium.
Air conditioning systems impressive
Technology developed around Qatar 2022 may not necessarily be needed during the mild November/December months where it is no longer the sweltering 40+ degrees Celsius it has been during the World Athletics at times. But it's a legacy project and the air conditioning systems inside the Al Janoub and Khalifa Stadium were impressive.
Within an hour, 45 degrees Celsius can be 21 degrees. How energy efficient and environmentally conscious is the system? Engineer Dr. Saud Abdulghani, who was trained in the UK, told me how he cools air two metres above the heads of spectators using recirculated air that is kept inside a stadium by a precise calculation of air pressure. He assured me he only cooled the air through cold water at night and used only the energy required.
For supporters who will decide to travel...
If you plan to go to Qatar to watch World Cup matches, do your homework before travelling. It will be easy on paper to get around as the stadiums are so close to one another, although beware the traffic in and around Doha as it can be appalling.
Doha does have a Metro system which locals do not use in great numbers as the car is king in Qatar as fuel is very cheap compared with UK prices, but could be pretty useful for football fans. Do become familiar with the customs of the region and be respectful. Qatar 2022 is of course the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East and the Arabic world.
With just over three years until kick off, progress is clearly being made in terms of infrastructure and they have had a global event such as the World Athletics Championships to point out glaring lessons to learn.
However, since the award of the World Cup by FIFA on December 2, 2010 so many questions surrounding the bid and preparations for Qatar 2022 remain unanswered.