Qatar would host 2020 Summer Games in October

Doha: Qatar is proposing to hold the 2020 Olympics in October to avoid the Gulf Arab state`s searing summer heat, maintaining that the proposed October dates would "ensure ideal conditions for athletes and spectators."

Details of the bid released on Monday show that Doha would like to stage the Olympics from October 2-18 and the Paralympics from November 4-15.

"October in Doha is not like July and August. I don`t think heat will be an issue," Qatar Olympic Committee General Secretary Sheik Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told reporters in the Qatari capital.

Qatar, which will host the 2022 soccer World Cup, has tried to quell fears about summer temperatures that can soar to 50 degrees Celsius by promising air-conditioned stadiums. But many still call for the event to be held in winter.

Al Thani dismissed concerns that October date would conflict with the many other sporting events scheduled at that time, saying that eight years was plenty of time to adjust event calendars.

"If we all agree on a date, everything can be adjusted," he said.

Qatar officials also said they would send female athletes to the Olympics for the first time. The IOC has offered Qatar wild card invitations for two female athletes to compete in London, swimmer Nada Arkaji and sprinter Noor al-Malki, Al Thani said, adding that the number could rise to four.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Brunei have never sent women athletes to an Olympics.

"Both Qatar and the Middle East are changing. Look at what is happening across the region. Change is in the air, and we see Doha 2020 as a way to change for the better," Al Thani said.

Organisers claim the Gulf state will not have to make significant expenditures on Olympic venues, saying 91 per cent of the sports venues for the Games are already built or planned. Qatar has budgeted $73 million for its 2020 bid, a statement said.

"We are presenting a games plan that dovetails perfectly with the significant investment Qatar is already making in sports facilities and essential infrastructure over the next few years. Our focus on utilising existing venues and those already planned and budgeted means we can have certainty in delivering an accessible and low cost games in 2020," Al Thani said.

The surprise departure last week of Rome from the race to host the 2020 Olympics has put the spotlight on the finances of the five remaining candidates, with Azerbaijan`s Baku and Qatar`s Doha, initially seen as outsiders but cash-rich, set to gain in status.

Both Qatar, the world`s top liquefied natural gas exporter and Azerbaijan`s booming capital Baku, flush with the proceeds of oil and gas sales from reserves in the Caspian Sea, are aggressively going after global events.

It will be Doha`s second successive Olympic bid after failing to make the cut for the 2016 Games. Baku also failed in the first hurdle for 2016.

The IOC will elect the winning bid in Sept 2013 at their session in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Bureau Report