The Qatari capital of Doha has been awarded the right to host the World Championships in Athletics in 2019, one of the largest sporting events in the world.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) confirmed Doha had won the bidding competition: “Doha was selected to host the 2019 IAAF World Championships… Doha (QAT) was selected over Barcelona (ESP) and Eugene (USA) for the right to host the 17th edition of the IAAF World Championships.”
The event will run for a week and regularly attracts nearly 2,000 athletes, in addition to hundreds more coaches, media and organisers.
The Gulf state is currently embroiled in controversy over FIFA awarding it the hosting of the 2022 World Cup, with claims of bribery and corruption during the voting process, concerns over soaring summer temperatures and labour conditions for workers building the infrastructure and stadiums needed for the event.
However, Qatar Olympic Committee’s senior adviser Aphrodite Moschoudi confirmed the event would be staged from 28 September to 6 October, when “the temperature in Doha at this time of year is no different to several recent world championships”.
In the days leading up to the IAFF announcement in Monaco, human rights organisations called on the world governing body for athletics to seek assurances from Qatar it would improve its treatment of labourers before its hosts the 2019 event.
“The reforms that Qatar has announced will not significantly improve the situation… Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been very clear on that point, and the IAAF should ensure that its decision is based on a dispassionate analysis of the facts, not PR spin,” Nicholas McGeehan, Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch, told The Guardian earlier this week.
“Sporting events such as this offer an excellent opportunity to drive reform, but if sporting organisations like the IAAF do not receive iron-clad guarantees that those reforms will happen, then they run the risk of their brand being used as a public relations tool for unscrupulous hosts.”
According to Doha’s winning bid, the World Championships in Athletics in 2019 will be focused around Khalifa International Stadium, which is currently being renovated, and the Qatar National Convention Center.
“We have worked very hard in developing athletics… We are ready to move to the next step and organise a real world championship,” Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the secretary general of the Qatar Olympic Committee, said during Doha’s presentation in Monaco.
Doha was the favourite to win hosting duties for the event. Beijing will host in 2015 and London in 2017.
In 2011, the IAAF awarded London the 2017 World Championships, beating Doha in a head-to-head contest.