Lord Coe, one of the leading figures in international sport, believes the UAE is ready and able to stage an Olympic Games in the near future.
Speaking exclusively to The National from London ahead of the opening events in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he said the Emirates has the resources and the potential to mount a bid for the Games, but would have to overcome concerns about the climate in the Arabian Gulf to win the right to hold the event.
“The UAE has the ability to meet the infrastructural demands of hosting a Games in the future. It is a country whose sporting and national ambitions are clearly defined. A country that has shown that investment in sport and active lifestyle can have tangible benefits on health and well-being, and can support global nation-building objectives.
“Climate is clearly a factor and that would have to be planned around in partnership with the international sporting community, federations and governing bodies. But if the challenges of the sporting calendar could be navigated through, then the UAE could think about the potential of a Games,” he said.
Lord Coe was an Olympic gold medal winner in the 1980s, and he led the successful bid by London to hold the Games in the British capital in 2012. As the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, he remains active at the heart of international sport.
He also said that the Dubai Expo 2020 business fair could be a springboard for an Olympic bid. “Expo is certainly comparable with a summer Olympic Games in terms of its operational and organisational complexity, and so in that respect it would be excellent preparation for a future Olympic bid.
“But clearly, in most other respects the events are very different, and present their own unique challenges. Expo will be an outstanding event and one that has already put the UAE even more firmly on the world map. It will cement UAE’s position and reputation as a forward-thinking, progressive and amazingly ambitious nation,” he said.
There has been speculation in the past that the UAE might mount a bid for the Games, but the country has never submitted a formal pitch. The next event for which it would be eligible is the 2028 Games. Bidding will begin in 2019, with a winner announced about two years later.
Lord Coe said that staging an Olympic Games would bring economic benefits for the successful host country, as was the case with the London Games.
“The economic benefits obviously depend on a myriad of factors, local circumstances, global factors and on the specific objectives for each Games. London 2012 showed that the Olympic Games can drive genuine socio-economic benefit and achieve lasting legacy.
“In London, the Games contributed to both regional and national economic benefits. A UK trade and investment department report showed that the UK economy saw a £9.9 billion [Dh47.55bn] boost in trade and investment from hosting the 2012 Games,” he added.
“There will be a need for new infrastructure and facilities to be built, but this catalyst for development is one of the huge benefits of a Games. Culturally, the UAE has embraced sport and entertainment, and that is hugely important,” he said.
“The success of events like the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the Fifa Under 17s World Cup UAE 2013 have shown that the UAE has the ability and experience to stage complex, international sports events on a grand scale,” Lord Coe added.
“The country has all the conditions required to be a successful host nation.”
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