Qatar says no World Cup games will be played outside country amid tournament doubts

Updated 19 January 2018

Qatar says no World Cup games will be played outside country amid tournament doubts

DOHA: Qatar will host every game of the 2022 World Cup, the country’s senior tournament organizer insisted Friday, amid speculation the Gulf political crisis would force the emirate to relocate matches.
Hassan Al-Thawadi, secretary-general of Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee, also maintained that preparations for the tournament were on schedule, despite the ongoing and increasingly bitter eight-month crisis.
“Qatar is the sole host country of the 2022 World Cup and will host the 64 matches of the tournament across eight planned venues,” Thawadi told AFP in a statement.
He was responding to a recent media claim that the 2022 matches could be played elsewhere in the region, specifically Iran, because of political and economic uncertainties.
Last June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut all ties with Qatar over Doha’s alleged ties to Islamist extremists and a warming relationship with Iran, Saudi’s great regional rival.
Qatar denies all the accusations, but the crisis rumbles on with the World Cup an increasingly vulnerable issue.
Last year, an official from the UAE claimed that if Qatar gave up 2022 it could end the entrenched political stalemate.
And the Emirati foreign minister Anwar Gargash said Qatar could only host the World Cup if it shunned “extremism.”
The regional tensions have seemingly undermined Qatar’s claims for the first World Cup in the Middle East to be “a tournament for the region.”
Thawadi added that all stadiums would be finished by 2020, with FIFA to decide later this year on the final number of venues.
He also said there would be enough accommodation provided for visiting fans — claiming that Qatar would exceed its bid promise of 100,000 rooms — and none would be housed in migrant labor camps, as recently reported.
“The project is very much on schedule and FIFA is happy with our progress,” added Thawadi.
— AFP


Russian athletics champ blasts own sports authorities

Updated 11 December 2019

Russian athletics champ blasts own sports authorities

  • Lasitskene, a three-time world champion, has in the past been critical of Russia’s athletics federation

MOSCOW: Russian high jump world champion Maria Lasitskene on Tuesday accused her country’s own sports authorities of failing to protect athletes from the deepening doping crisis, in a rare public broadside at top officials.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday handed Russia a new, this time four-year, ban from top global sporting events, including the next summer and winter Olympics and the 2022 soccer World Cup, for tampering with laboratory data.

The ruling means Russian athletes cleared to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will do so under a neutral flag. But Lasitskene and some other Russian track and field athletes face additional obstacles to being cleared for competition.

“I’ve already missed one Olympics and one-and-a-half years of international competition,” Lasitskene wrote in an open letter addressed to Russia’s sports authorities.

“And it seems that’s not the end of it. So who ultimately is to blame? Who’s going to give me back what I’ve lost?” she wrote in the letter published on Russian sports media outlet Championat.Com.

Lasitskene, a three-time world champion, has in the past been critical of Russia’s athletics federation, which has been suspended for doping since 2015, and has been one of the few Russian athletes to voice her anger publicly.

World Athletics, the global body governing athletics, last month halted the reinstatement procedures for Russia’s athletics federation after its president and six others were provisionally suspended for serious breaches of anti-doping rules.

As a result of these fresh sanctions, World Athletics also said it was reviewing the process it has used in the past to clear some Russians, including Lasitskene, to compete internationally as neutrals.

“Why have we arrived at a situation when an athlete is supposed to be delighted about getting neutral status?” Lasitskene wrote.

“Was the Sports Ministry and Russian Olympic Committee really happy with the Russian athletics federation’s work?”

The president of Russia’s Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, on Monday dismissed the sanctions against Russia as inappropriate and excessive.