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  • IOC Chief Impressed in Doha


    The IOC President at Asian Games HQ. (DAGOC) 
    (ATR) The president of the IOC calls "impressive" the sports infrastructure being developed in Qatar. Jacques Rogge heads back to Europe today following a two-day visit to Doha, which is in the midst of preparations for the 2006 Asian Games, now just over a year away.

    The IOC president tells Around the Rings that he was struck by the size of the sports ministry staff ? that also includes the Qatar Olympic Committee ? 700 workers in a sleek skyscraper capped with the Olympic rings.

    "I think Qatar has intelligently invested in organizations and at the same time taking care of its own athletes. Qatar has been able to attract major sporting events with a good strategy and good legacy and I think that this puts Qatar on the map," said Rogge at a press conference following a tour of the Asian Games headquarters.

    Rogge was the recipient of a lifetime achievement award during a gala dinner Wednesday night for Reach Out to Asia, the Qatari-based charity to help tsunami victims. Fellow Belgian sport legend Eddy Merckx presented the statue to the IOC leader, who expressed surprise and then dedicated the honor ?to the millions of volunteers? whose work he says makes possible sports events around the world.

    Rogge is part of a group of IOC members in Doha, invited as well for the opening of the new indoor arena to be used for the 2006 Asian Games. Others included Nawal el Moutawakel, Tony Khoury, Thomas Bach and Hichem El Gerouj.

    The arena is part of a boom in construction across Doha, office towers, hotels and other buildings, not just sports venues
    Buildings are springing up throughout Doha. (ATR) 
    for the Asian Games.

    The Asian Games have grown to be the largest Olympics-style, multi-sport event in the world. As many as 10,000 athletes could be in for the games next year that will run from Dec. 1 to 15.

    Doha's sports and infrastructure development has raised the question of whether it could launch a bid for a 2016 or other future Olympics. The Asian Games will leave Doha with essential sports facilities needed for the Olympics, but still would need to look at a number of practical issues: tens of thousands of hotel rooms, transport, security and timing of the Olympics, which would need to be held late in the year to avoid searing heat, as are the 2006 Asian Games.

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