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  • On the Scene in Dubai: Olympic Hopes, SportAccord Week Opens


    Dubai plays host to SportAccord this week. (ATR)
    Dubai Ruler: We Will Bid to Win Olympics

    As SportAccord opens for the first time in the Middle East, the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of host city Dubai, says when the time is right for an Olympic bid, “we will be in it to win”.

    Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum made the comments this weekend in an interview published by his media office.

    “It is important to understand that, as of this moment, there is no bid. All we are doing now is evaluating whether we should pursue that goal.

    “We are conducting feasibility studies to evaluate the costs and benefits of a bid, and our ability to meet the criteria to host the Olympic Games,” says Sheikh Mohammed.

    Dubai is not the only Mideast city with Olympic aspirations. Nearby Doha, in Qatar, was unsuccessful in its efforts to be considered as a finalist for the 2016 Olympics. Doha was cut from the field after proposing to hold the Games in October, well outside the July-August window preferred by the IOC, but at a cooler time of year for Qatar.

    Dubai’s Mohammed acknowledges that the heat of the region during the summer months is an issue facing any bid from this part of the world.

    “The summer heat can be a serious problem for athletes. We will have to take an honest look at our weaknesses as well as our strengths. I can assure you of this, though: If we decide to make a bid for the Olympics, we will be in it to win,” he says.

    Qatar, which is now seeking to host the 2022 World Cup Finals, is proposing stadia which are climate controlled as a way to beat the heat.

    Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister for the UAE. (Press Office)
    Mohammed will address SportAccord later this week.

    SportAccord Official Open Tuesday

    A ceremony on a Persian Gulf beach Tuesday evening will officially open the eighth edition of SportAccord as it debuts in the Mideast.

    About 1500 delegates and guests are expected for the convention being held at the imposing Atlantis Palm resort.

    Meetings of the SportAccord council were held Sunday; the council is the ruling body for the organization, which consists of more than 100 international sports organizations. Until last year the group was known by the jaw-churning title of General Association of International Sports Federations, or GAISF.

    Monday and Tuesday are set aside for closed-door meetings of the Summer and Winter Olympic federations.

    The public program for Sport Accord runs Wednesday and Thursday.

    Sports development in the Middle East, the changing geography of sport events and sustainable development are among the topics to be covered in panels and presentations.

    Notable figures speaking include Australian Olympian Ian Thorpe and former U.N. secretary general Kofi Anan.

    Particularly timely will be an “Interview of the Day” with Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid. He is certain to be asked for comment on the suspension Monday of Lalit Modi as chairman and commissioner of the Indian Premier League, the biggest league for the sport in the world.

    Modi is accused of taking kickbacks for the awarding of TV rights for the IPL as well as rigging the bids for new league franchises.

    Written by Ed Hula.

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