PARIS (Dispatches) - The focus of the sporting world shifts to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar following the Tokyo Olympics, with lingering questions over Covid safety and human rights.
Unlike the Games, which played out to a backdrop of surging case numbers in Tokyo and without spectators to limit viral transmission, organizers of the November 18-December 21, 2022, football tournament insist it will be played in full stadiums.
Qatar 2022 might be the first truly global sporting event with fans since coronavirus emerged at the start of 2020, if the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics goes ahead behind closed doors as an International Olympic Committee official has suggested.
Such is the commitment of the tiny, super-wealthy host emirate to stage a “normal” tournament that Doha has pledged to vaccinate travelling fans from countries where the rollout of jabs has been slower.
“Whatever happens I expect we’ll have fans, including foreigners, in the stadiums,” said Danyel Reiche, an associate professor at Georgetown University in Qatar.
“Qatar was a pioneer in developing concepts for sports during the pandemic and has staged many events.”
Qatar, the first Middle Eastern host of the World Cup, was, along with Rwanda, an Olympics vaccine hub for athletes heading to Tokyo. It also hosted the refugee team.