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Dubai Olympics: Go for it says UK's games mastermind Sebastian Coe

Sebastian Coe, the Olympic gold champion turned sports businessman, believes Dubai could eventually be in a position to stage the Olympic Games if it wins the right to host Expo 2020.

Speaking exclusively to The National, Lord Coe said: "Expo would show Dubai can deliver. There is absolutely no reason why the Olympics should not be an ambition for Dubai going forward."

But he warned that staging the games is a challenge. "Nothing is more complicated than the Olympics. The challenge is to operationally integrate 13 days of competition, effectively putting on 26 simultaneous world championships. It is not a walk in the park.

"The first question you have to ask is why you want to do it. It's not enough just to answer that it's a big sporting event. You have to ask what you leave behind after the games are over," he added.

Lord Coe, who masterminded the campaign to hold the 2012 Olympic Games in London, backed Dubai to win the contest for Expo. "It's an important event to host. It has the ability to show all that's good and vibrant in a community. I wish them [Dubai's Expo team] well in their campaign. It is very important for the city.

"But you can't run before you can walk. It's important to show you have a track record in managing and delivering a big event. The Olympics has a whole other tier of complexity compared with Expo," he added.

As executive chairman of the sports and entertainment group CSM, Lord Coe has travelled to the UAE and other Arabian Gulf countries as the region increasingly flexes its financial muscle on the global sporting stage.

He backed the decision to award the 2022 Fifa World Cup to Qatar, despite criticism of the award process and the country's ability to stage the competition in the summer.

"I'm pleased the World Cup is in Qatar. If we're going to extend global competitive sport, you're going to encounter challenges, be they climatic, cultural or sporting.

"As regards the climatic conditions, it will require global discussions on timetables and events. You cannot just refuse a country because it is the wrong time of year," he said.

"But it's not for me to make the judgement on whether or not there should be a winter World Cup. If you're going to include new parts of the world, you've got to accommodate them, and that's the responsibility of the federations, the media and the sponsors," he added.

Recent years have seen a surge in sporting interest in the Arabian Gulf region. Many big sporting events and organisations have sponsorship or ownership ties with Gulf entities, including Abu Dhabi's ownership of the Manchester City Football Club, Emirates Airline's commercial ties with Arsenal and Real Madrid, and Qatar's ownership of Paris Saint Germain and links with Barcelona.

Lord Coe said: "Sport is global now. I'm not surprised European-based sport has proved an attractive proposition for global investors. I'm a bit of a free marketeer, I believe the market should be allowed to reach its own level, that is the nature of global investment. You cannot artificially manipulate the market, any more than you can stop footballers from asking for so much money."

His company, CSM, offers advice to governments and private enterprises on staging big sporting and entertainment events, concentrating on what he calls the "legacy structures" behind such events.

"What is important is what you leave behind and how it impacts on communities in the future. I've been chairman now for six months and it is very exciting," he said.

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UAE plans medal assault at 2020 Olympic Games

Dubai: The UAE has laid out a comprehensive programme that organisers hope will ensure the country’s athletes winning international medals by the 2020 Olympic Games.

“The medal target for the UAE is not less than ten years,” Wajdan Dakhooni, Corporate Communications Manager of the UAE National Olympic Committee (UAE NOC) told Gulf News on Monday.

The UAE NOC is confident of the success of the crop of athletes who have already been identified with 2020 in mind. The NOC has been helped by the backing from multi-national company Procter & Gamble (P&G), who have vowed to continue to help discover sporting talent in the country.

Last March, the UAE NOC and P&G signed a one-year agreement to support the nation’s youth development programme through the launch of the inaugural UAE School Olympics in September, with the approval of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. That link-up has now been extended for another year.

The 2012 School Olympics saw more than 85,000 children from 128 schools aged between seven and 14 compete. Promising athletes have now been identified in six Olympic sports, including archery, shooting, fencing, swimming, gymnastics and athletics.

“By 2020 we are looking at athletes who will be in their late teens or thereabouts. We’ve got a development programme for these young athletes who have been identified already from last year, and they should be ready for the 2020 Olympic Games and beyond,” Dakhooni said.

“By the time they are 16 years old, these athletes will be ready for the Arab Games and then on to the Asian Games, after which they will be primed for the biggest stage.”

Yassin Attas, P&G Director of Communications for the Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan, said: “We’ve seen the success of this exercise from its first year and we are keen to take it to the next level. We are proud to be able to support the UAE’s future generations of athletic stars and their families through the UAE NOC.”

Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid are the three cities in the fray to host the 2020 Games and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will elect the host city on September 7 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


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GOod for them. Unlike Qatar and Bahrain which has to rely almost exclusively buying athletes.

As far as I know, Qatar has begun building training sites and youth development programs but obviously it will take time to create a society that feels favorably to sports plus their native population is very small.

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I find their architecture mindblowing, an Olympics would look so innovative and I'm sure 2022 will be for Qatar, and it's 10 years ahead of us, so futuristic! but i wonder if they even have enough people to occupy those buildings or if they have any culture (?)

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A formal campaign was expected after the UAE’s National Olympic Committee said last year it was ready to bid for the 2024 Games - as soon as the Dubai government gave it the green light. But, any such plans now appear to have been sidelined.
“I don’t think they are bidding for it this time,” Wajdan Dakhooni, the head of strategic planning for the UAE National Olympic Committee, revealed to 7DAYS. “We don’t have the reasons yet, we don’t know exactly, but probably, maybe, the government is not ready yet to participate in an Olympic bid.”
Dakhooni said there were still plans to bid to host an Olympic Games in Dubai, but those had now shifted towards events further into the future.
“There are plans and we are waiting for feedback,” she said. “Hopefully it will be positive because I think as a country we are ready to go ahead - in terms of facilities, in terms of infrastructure.”
Dakhooni was speaking at an announcement in Dubai earlier this week of the renewal of a partnership between sporting initiative ‘School Olympics’ and household goods giant Procter and Gamble. The partnership was created to identify future UAE Olympians.
The general secretary of the UAE National Olympic Committee, Mohammed Al Kamali, was unavailable for comment on any plans for a future Olympic bid. Nearly 20 cities have expressed an interest in bidding for the 2024 event, including Qatari capital Doha. Bidding will begin next year, with the winning city announced in 2017.


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Middle East, Arabic world, absolutely yes. Of course those areas should at least get a chance to host, the Olympics is largely about new cultures. Doha/Dubai, absolutely no. Their heat is unbearable, their laws medieval. For the Middle East, Istanbul is the best chance. However, I think the best possible opportunity for an Islamic country to host would be in Morocco.

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Nah, Morocco doesn't excite me nearly as much as Istanbul does for the first Muslim host. I'd classify Turkey as much more progressive & less "medieval" than morocco. I hope the first Muslim host is indeed Istanbul. It's the perfect choice all the way around in that aspect. Cosmopolitan, exotic & intriguing all in one package.

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