Doha to host showpiece in new show of Qatari influence
By Ian Chadband
(Reuters) - Doha was chosen on Tuesday to host the 2019 World Athletics Championships as Qatar's latest triumph thrust the Middle East nation, with its massive wealth and boundless ambition to be a sporting super-power, once more back into the spotlight.
Less than a week after the controversy over Qatar's selection to stage soccer's World Cup in 2022 was reignited, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was not put off by potential criticism as it voted for the Qatari capital to stage another of global sport's showpiece events.
At its meeting in Monaco, the IAAF Council plumped for Doha ahead of two powerful, older school candidates, former Olympic hosts Barcelona and Eugene, the Nike-backed home of athletics in the United States.
Doha's victory, after losing to London in the 2017 bidding race, again underlined the ever-growing pulling power of Qatar's petrodollar-fuelled masterplan to be a major, credible force in the sporting mainstream.
First, the World Cup, now the world championships but it is still, many sporting power brokers believe, only the launch pad for Qatar to become the first Middle East nation to stage the Olympics in 2024.
Organizers were at pains throughout the bidding process to try to avoid the possibility of a repeat of any of the corruption allegations and logistical controversies which disfigured Qatar's soccer World Cup bid.
After an investigation, FIFA last week cleared Qatar of wrongdoing regarding its 2022 bid, only to unleash a new firestorm of criticism when the chief investigator disowned the conclusions of the governing body's report.
But Doha's athletics bid leader, Dahlan Al-Hamad, reiterated on the eve of Tuesday's vote: "We are very happy that FIFA has investigated and announced everything is clear and can go ahead in Qatar but our concentration is to organize for the world championships in the right way, and within the IAAF rules." Continued...