While Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics may be a financial flop, Qatar, host to one of the next big global sporting events since the start of the pandemic, expects its tournament late next year to provide an incredible economic boost.
The country built a new city, stadium, and metro station and expanded its airport in anticipation of the world’s greatest football event with the total build costing $300 billion as reported by Bloomberg. Qatar is trying to make use of the World Cup to showcase its incredible expansion from a forgotten desert in the Arabian to a sprawling metropolitan and a prominent transit hub.
Hassan Al Thawadi, head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the event, is confident that the competition will accelerate the initiatives the government has already committed to, from urban development to economic diversification. The potential benefits from hosting the World Cup alone could be significant enough to warrant speeding up construction.
“We anticipate the contribution to the economy essentially would be around $20 billion,” Thawadi said. The sum is equivalent to about 11% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2019.
Qatar has faced a ton of criticism about its plan to host the world’s favourite football tournament. Fans’ concerns revolve around the fact that matches will have poor attendance, and fans flying in will not have much fun.
Qatar has planned to only allow fully vaccinated fans against COVID-19 in the stadium. Fans flying from other countries will be vaccinated if not fully vaccinated for which Qatar is trying to secure a million dozen vaccine doses.
In addition, Qatar is also facing the threat of boycotts. Media outlets and fans, including 59% of U.S. fans say teams should boycott Qatar due to human rights abuses committed by the country.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics have been the target of criticism for the same reason. Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice also alleged that representatives for Russia and Qatar bribed FIFA officials to win hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 competitions, making Qatar’s case weaker.
Despite the controversy, Qatar estimates as many as 1.5 million visitors for the World Cup. The government announced on Sunday that only fully vaccinated spectators will be allowed to attend.