Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Is it going to be a 2016 Dubai Olympics?

The past week, I have been trying to examine Dubai's chances of making a successful bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics against other candidates. Being the self-proclaimed sporting capital of the Middle East, Dubai is planning to make a strong bid for the Summer Games hoping the $2 Billion Dubai Sports City will impress the IOC.

But is Dubai ready to host the Greatest Show on Earth? Here are some postives and negatives to ponder.

+ Olympics or not, Sports City is scheduled to be completed in 4 years which means the basic infrastructure will be done to an extent.

+ Money - Even the IOC would like to believe that Dubai has a few money-trees hidden in the desert. No paranoia about looking for funding and investors unlike what happened for Athens - even it means absorbing huge financial losses. And money has won over the Olmpics Committee a few times. Think Atlanta 1996.

+ The Middle East has never hosted an Olympics - which will ensure Doha and Dubai will be given due consideration against the U.S cities which are tipped to be favourites.

+ Dubai's more cosmopolitan outlook compared to Doha will most likely win a few votes in its favour in the event of shortlisting one city from the region.

- Local participation- will be very limited considering the number of sporting disciplines(under a dozen disciplines on an average) that athletes from the region are considered competitive. 'The nominee must have a realistic chance to win against international candidates' is one of the criteria upon which the IOC will make a decision.

- The weather - The Summer Games will probably be held during the month of November which will not be a comfortable for the athletes unless someone here has a bright idea like conducting the marathon inside a shopping mall.

- The UAE Olympic Committee is a complete joke. According to their website, the Athens 2004 games is an upcoming event, using underage boys for camel races is a heritage sport and cites '1 participant only' as an international level sporting achievement.

- Dubai Sports City seems to be a project conceived solely on reeping profits out of selling residential apartments with sports facilities dangling like a 'freehold carrot' rather than showing some real commitment on encouraging sporting talents in U.A.E.

Big corporations in UAE treat sports as a past time of the rich rather than about finding talent, grooming them and converting them to world-class athletes. So sports like golf and tennis where there is little or no representation from UAE gets plenty of support, supposedly with the intention of attracting investments. Football gets a look-in because of the huge amount of followers, but has not materialised into anything productive. Cricket gets some mention here and there because of the sub-continental and British population's interest.

None of these are considered as a major Olympic sport. Besides having an oddly-shaped golf ball as the logo and boasting about a golf course being constructed does little to suggest any commitment towards sports in UAE.

This is when the very few who achieved Olympic glory is being portrayed as a contract killer in Bollywood movies.

Meanwhile, here is an analysis of the other possible bidding cities.

Doha, Qatar
+ Infrastructure and facilities in place for 2006 Asian Games for which they have reportedly spent a massive $4 billion.
+ 50,000 seat Khalifa Stadium built for the Asian Games which will probably be upgraded to the level of an Olympic stadium.
+ No Arab/MiddleEast country has ever hosted the Olympics or a major international event for that matter. IOC will be keen to explore new avenues to widen the appeal of the games - whether it is Africa or the Middle East.

- Summer Games typically need to sell 4 million to 9 million tickets—and Qatar's population is less than 900,000. Crucial for the campaign in terms of volunteer support.
- Qatar's reputation buying athletes instead of grooming them in their home turf is not going to help them. But it will definitely make it easier for them to figure in the medal tally unlike UAE if it becomes the host.
- Location - IOC will always be wary of holding the Olympics in the Middle East because of terrorism concerns.
- Not exactly pleasant for the athletes, a problem for Dubai as well.
- Local participation will be limited.

The verdict
: Has a good chance of becoming a candidate city if the Asian Games is a success, especially in terms of viewership and TV rights. But stands little chance in being the winner. First time applicants rarely did in the history of the games.

Tokyo, Japan
+ An early commitment towards the games campaign after a selection process inside Japan which eliminated .
+ Promises the most technologically advanced games ever. Don't be surprised if you see a robot lighting up the Olympic torch in the opening ceremony.
+ The most compact and efficient games ever is the Japanese claim. The 1964 Tokyo Olympics marked the first television program to cross the Pacific Ocean via a communication satellite. So you got to believe them.
+ Stresses on the environment aspect - a factor which is going to become vital by 2009, I think.
+ Estimated expenditure of 2.6 billion dollars including a 100,000 capacity new Olympic stadium besides renovating the present one.

- 'The most compact games ever' might not sound appealing enough to the IOC. This is the Olympic Games, for Gods sake. Not a freaking digital memory card.
- Has hosted the games in 1964 - and IOC might be keen on a new candidate. Besides, 2008-China and 2016 - Japan? Highly unlikely.
- Potential problems with North Korea. They are already quoted as saying the bid 'is enough to make a cat laugh'. The Japs would be praying that good ol' Kim is in a good mood by 2009.

The verdict : Likely to make the shortlist thanks to it's methodical approach to the campaign but little chance of winning because of the reasons mentioned above.

Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil
+ 2007 Pan Asian Games will ensure that some level of infrastructure is in place for the Olympics. The 45,000 capacity João Havelange Stadium and the 8,000 capacity Games Village for a start.
+ Has a great sporting culture and a high level local participation can be expected.

- Bid in 2004 and 2012, did not make the candidate city shortlist.
Rio is an overwhelming favourite for hosting the 2014 Fifa World cup, which would dampen the possibilities of Rio hosting two major events in such a short period.
- Rio's capabilities in organising such a big event has doubters. The Pan Asian Games would prove to be the testing ground for Rio as the Asian Games is for Doha.

The verdict : If it manages to sort out the confusion about the 2014 Fifa World Cup it has a reasonable chance of making a winning bid. If it does not, it might not even make the shortlist.

Istanbul, Turkey
+ In the best position in presenting the city as a moderate Muslim destination with a
rich cultural heritage.
+ Successfully made the international shortlist in 2000 and 2008 which might see them being given preference over cities like Dubai and Doha when considered in the bracket of a Muslim nation.
+ The 82,000 capacity Atatürk Olympic Stadium designed by Michel Macary and Aymeric Zublena, who also designed the "Stade de France" in Paris. Hosted the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final.

- Has pursued a dubious strategy of offering to bid for every Olympic Games since 1992 hoping that it will be successful one day.
- Much is at stake in how the political situation is like in 2008/2009 and how it's relations are with the EU. Considering that the Europea has minimal chance in bagging the 2016 Olympics, if Istanbul gets it's act right, Europe might rally behind them.
- Bad crowd behaviour in the past during football tournaments.

The verdict : Has a good chance of being selected if it makes a strong bid via addressing infrastructure and security concerns. Seventh time lucky perhaps?

United States of America
Since the last Olympics hosted by a U.S city was in 1996(Atlanta), the chances this time are very high unless there are glitches at the last moment. Security will be a key concern because of terrorist threats and will surely bite into the profit margins of the U.S Cities. Athens had to spend a staggering $14 Billion in infrastructure and security post 9/11 and took in only $3 Billion.

Chicago, USA
+ At the moment, Chicago seems to be the most committed of all the bidding cities, planning to spend a massive $2 billion in privately financed construction, including $300 million for the stadium and $1 billion for an Olympic Village. Revenue expected is between $5 and $10 Billion, creating as many as 80,000 jobs and welcoming 5 to 6 million visitors. The city mayor has already visited Beijing and other cities for inputs and is guaranteed to get their public relations right while making their bid.
+ Never hosted the Olympics before unlike Los Angeles and hence has a better chance of making the shortlist.
+ $300 Million Washington Park stadium with a capacity of 97,000 and a spectacular public space
+ Ambitious masterplan designed by SOM.

- Has to fight the 'Al Capone and Michael Jordan city' tag and has to cultivate a positive image internationally.
- Competition from Los Angeles and San Francisco might see them eliminated in the initial round itself.
- Raising huge amount of money as investment poses a big challenge.

The verdict : Has a very good chance of making the winning bid if it emerges as the best choice among the U.S cities.

Los Angeles
+ Arguably the best placed in terms of infrastructure and facilities already present.
+ Pioneers in many respects, including introduction of the concept of Olmypic Village in 1932.
+ An excellent choice of venues apart from the ones built for the 1984 games.
+ The 92,000 capacity Los Angeles Coliseum to be renovated for the bid.
+ Minimal spending - only $150 million required.
+ Likely to rope in some Hollywood celebrities for their campaign.

- Hosted the Olympics two times before - in 1932 and 1984 which reduces its chances to a great extent, especially considering possible strong bids from Chicago and San Francisco.
- Did not share the $225 million surplus from the 1984 games with the Olympic movement.

The verdict : Very little chance of making it to the shortlist even. However if the other two cities messes up their campaign, LA might still make a winning bid.

San Francisco
+ Has the edge over Chicago as far as international links are concerned.
+ Has the experience of bidding for the 2012 Games with the much hyped 'Ring of Gold', eventually losing out to NY inside the country. It is also planning to rectify the mistakes it commited last time around.
+ 85,000 capacity Stanford stadium exists though no concrete plans are yet outlined in terms of upgradation.
+ Only $200 Million overall spending for the Games.

- Lack of political support inside the city.
- No proper planning and commitment yet.
- Lags LA in terms of infrastructure already present.

The verdict: Solely depends on how Chicago's campaign is. Has a good chance if it shows more commitment and political will to win.

The IOC is very keen to have an African nation host the 2016 Olympics which means any African city which makes a strong bid has a very good chance of not only making the shortlist but winning itself.

Although Kenya, which at the moment has 2 stadiums which are rarely used has shown a fair amount of interest, the country's own Olympic chief is not so sure. Durban and Capetown has far better chances though Cape Town lost out to Athens in 2004. Any doubters of Cape Town's capabilities might do a rethink after taking a look at this website.

Asia's chances are very limited considering Beijing's successful bid for 2008, with only New Delhi, apart from Tokyo having any chance of making it to the shortlist. New Delhi has a good chance of making it to the shortlist especially if they manage to host 2010 Common Wealth Games successfully, for which India is spending a massive $1.2 Billion. Incidentally, the sports minister is not so impressed.
Busan also seems to be in the race

Bangkok was also interested, though their chances are now practically wiped out.

London, having won the 2012 Games has dampened the chances of Madrid, Hamburg, Moscow, Lisbon, Rome and to some extent Istanbul of making a successful bid. Madrid and Hamburg are likely to make strong bids, but despitef a successful Barcelona Olympics, Spain might again have the misfortune of losing after making it to the final round like in 2012.

Rome's chances does not look bright while Moscow's chances depends on it's bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Montréal and Toronto are considering bids, and their chances of one of them making it to the shortlist is very high, taking into account the multi-cultural population and international appeal. Though
Montréal has hosted the 1976 Summer Olympics and Toronto was second placed in the 2008 bid, Vancouver which has bagged the 2010 Winter Olympics might play spoilsport.

Other bids are likely to come from Havana, Montorrey and Buenos Aires.

Final Verdict:
Here is my prediction though it is a bit early to give a fair judgement.

Shortlist : Chicago, Madrid, Cape Town, Rio De Janeiro, Doha, New Delhi, Dubai,

Winner: Chicago
2. Cape Town 3. Rio De Janeiro 4. Madrid 5. New Delhi 6. Dubai


Blogger Rush said...

Firstly, I have not read an Olympic related article or opinion piece of this high quality in about a year. The information is up to date and the summaries are non-biased. An olympic fanatic myself, this is really a fantastic breakdown that should appear in newspapers across the globe.

Regarding, Cape Town in particular. It is highly unlikely considering 2010 preparations that Cape Town will be able to bid for the Olympic Games as the same time as all resouces both human and other will be guided towards making 2010 a success. 2020 though seems like perfect timing for an African win. Durban is not in Cape Town's league although it likes to believe that it has some sort of international prestige.

Cape Town
* An olympic stadium would be in place by June 2009, and will seat 68,000 in football mode which based on the final design to be released within a few weeks could be increased in capacity to host athletic events. The location at the juncture between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean could be a dramatic and effective selling point.
* General succes and experience gained from the 2010 World cup and smaller world cups in rugby and cricket gives Cape Town the real weight it needs to persuade just over 55 IOC members to vote for Cape Town.
* A much improved public transport system along with the best airport in Africa and an airport-city rail link should lift the technical score in terms of transport.
* Accommodation will also receive a big boost. A consortium from London and dubai who have recently purchased the waterfront adjacent to the site of the Olympic stadium for $1 billion, will spend $3 over the next three years to transform the waterfront area, which already receives 22 million visitors annually. With the addition of cruise liners, an Olympic and Media Village, accmmodation requirements should be well within reach.
*An existing stadium, an existing tennis facility, a growing City convention centre, three other stadia of 50k, 30 k and 25k will ease the need for new venues. Magnificent and dramatic backdrops to equestrian, rowing and beach volleyball will be a great selling point. Venues already exist for hockey, sailing temporary venues where necessary would be included. Only three new permanent venues for Rowing/Canoe Kayak, Aquatic Events and a large indoor arena will be needed to be built from scratch.
*Government support as with the previous bid will be immense, public support from the city and country will be moderate.
*Environmentally speaking, with the use of solar energy already planned for the new stadium and the wind farm which already exists could be a foundation for more significant green projects. Using wind energy and solar energy at most olympic venues could be ideal.

9:57 pm  
Blogger Woke said...

Thanks for the excellent bit of information. Cape Town looks well placed for a winning bid - it is just the matter of infrastructure being in place. And as per your input things are definitely looking positive for Cape Town.

8:42 am  
Blogger anonymous lurker said...

don't forget mo's wife is VERY CHUMMY with the olympic executive committee. that should count for something. ;-)

9:31 pm  
Blogger rahulv said...

Asian Games 2006, Doha

The showcase event for Asian athletes, the Asian Games are back. Held every four years, Asian Games 2006 is coming up in Doha, a beautiful city in Qatar.

Since the year 2000, Qatar has been vying for this prestigious quadrennial event, trying to surpass other Asian cities. Finally, Doha gets to host the 2006 Asian Games from 1st to 15th of December.

The history of Asian Games reveals that Qatar is only the second country in West Asia to hold this event since 1974, when Iran were the proud hosts.

The Asian Games 2006, Doha will be the 15th Asian Games since the inception of the event way back in 1951. The first Asian Games were held in the Indian capital, New Delhi.

Qatar is a small country spread over 11,437 square kilometers. For a progressive economy like Qatar, the Asian Games is a massive event, something that'll augment the nation's development.

Read More

9:27 am  
Blogger BD said...

Great analysis. I really think the Gulf states--Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Doha, etc. should go for a shared bid. Dubai and the rest would need to forsake their ego a bit, but it would not only make the show more interesting but could move the GCC closer to becoming an EU.

9:52 am  
Blogger Don said...


May I suggest a link related to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games?

Our site:

Title: Beijing Olympics

Please let me know if you want a link back.
Many thanks for your reply.

Best Regards,


4:51 pm  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home