Record entries demonstrate Doha Worlds' importance: Al Hitmi
DOHA: The Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the 48th FIG Artistic World Championships exuded confidence that the tournament, which will be held at the Aspire Dome from October 25 to November 3, will raise the country's profile at the international level.
By hosting the prestigious event, Qatar will also become the first Gulf nation to do so in the region after winning the bid in 2014.
“The tournament is very different from the previous ones because 85 countries will take part with an unprecedented number of athletes, but we are ready for this challenge," said tournament Executive Director and Qatar Gymnastics Federation President Ali Ahmed Al Hitmi. “It's a challenge for the LOC, QOC and the Ministry of Culture and Sports to organise this competition. This edition is a demonstration that confirms that Qatar is not only aiming to achieve excellence but also as an exceptional host."
Al Hitmi, who is also a FIG Executive Member, was confident that Doha will be ready to host the largest number of competitors.
“We have a strategy that suits this large number of participants. We do not find that difficult because of our excellent infrastructure," he said.
On requests from participating countries to set up camps ahead of the event, Al Hitmi added: “Yes, we have already received requests from China, Brazil and others seeking to acclimatise to the time difference. We have agreed for their early arrivals and have confirmed our readiness to receive them. There will also be gymnasts from Arab countries as the tournament is being held for the first time in the region."
No team competition took place at the ’17 worlds in Montreal, where Kenzo Shirai earned all three of the Japanese men’s medals by placing first on floor exercise, first on vault and third all-around, but this year's edition will also have team competitions, which means qualifying events will have long durations.
"We've had discussions with the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) about the large numbers of participants in MAG and WAG. We found it difficult to run the playoffs within two days for men and two for women. We needed more time and it was agreed by FIG to have this large number of entries. We know that the qualifying time will be somewhat long, but it's consistent with the dates set by the world body," explained Al Hitmi.