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
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.
+ 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.
+ 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.
+ 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.
+ 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.
+ 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.