Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup should encourage other countries near the equator to bid for major sporting events in the future, says an official in the country’s Supreme Committee planning group.
Among the many concerns the tiny nation in the Arabian peninsula has faced since FIFA awarded the rights to the tournament has been how Qatar can host in a summer climate that can reach daily highs of 42 degrees Celsius (108 Fahrenheit).
But Nasser Al Khater, the Supreme Committee’s assistant secretary general, believes that Qatar’s World Cup can set a precedent for more events in or near the tropics that have often been overlooked in favour of milder climates.
“The issue of climate — basically by saying that Qatar is too hot, let’s not forget the majority of the world’s population lives very close to the equator,” Al Khater said. “The equator is generally hot, though Qatar might be a little hotter, but then you’re saying that all countries that are close to the equator, it’s too hot any way.
“If it’s not 46 [degrees], it’s 40 [in other countries]. Already that’s pretty warm according to what FIFA considers above the safe temperature. So are you saying then that every country that is even a little above the average of say about 33 degrees is too hot to host a mega-event?”
Al Khater said he’s confident that Qatar’s cooling technology can work effectively across the region.
“We’ve had outdoor air-cooling technology in open spaces since 2008,” he said. “Al Sadd stadium has had air-conditioning since 2008. It’s an open-air stadium and it works perfectly well. Nobody knew about it, but we developed it. Qatar has the intellectual property for this technology.
“There’s now further refined technology, something that works on renewable energy. This is available now and it’s only going to get cheaper with time. It means that there are solutions out there.
“So I guess you’re saying to every country that there’s a possibility even if you’re a really small country and close to the equator, don’t back down for a mega-event. Whether it’s an Olympics, or an Asian Cup, or a World Cup.
FIFA has already shifted the 2022 World Cup to be played in winter for the first time in an effort to mitigate the heat, though Al Khater said the technology could have handled the summer temperatures as well.
“We’re still going ahead with the air-cooling technology. The stadiums will still have the air-cooling technology,” he said. “The World Cup will finish, but the stadiums will stay. We need them for the league and it’s technology that we had planned to have in the stadiums in any case.
“We were kind of disappointed [with the shift in dates]; we wanted to show off the air-cooling technology. I still think there’s an opportunity to use it. … I still think we’ll use it, and I still think people will appreciate the benefits of it.”