View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Five Reasons Why Dubai Should Bid and Win the Olympics in 2020

Amid the emotion surrounding the selection of the venue for the 2016 Olympic Games, it is not too early to express the view that Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, would be an ideal location for hosting the 2020 Olympic Games.

Here are five rings of confidence:

1. Location, Location, Location
The most compelling reason why Dubai should host the Olympic Games in 2020 is because of its Middle Eastern location.

Leaders of the successful Rio de Janeiro bid for 2016 have demonstrated that location was their ace card as they highlighted the fact that the modern Olympic Games has never been held in the continent of South America.

In its short history, Europe has dominated the hosting of the Summer Olympics with venues such as Athens, Paris, London, Sweden, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Berlin, Helsinki, Munich and Barcelona (with some of these venues being selected several times). The fact that London is hosting the 2012 Games was a negative factor that Madrid could not overcome in its bid for 2016.

North America has had its fair share with St Louis, Los Angeles, Mexico, Atlanta and Montreal and this surely contributed to Chicago’s failure in its 2016 bid to become another host on this continent.

There was a freshness given to the Games when it made its virgin appearance ‘down under’ in Melbourne during 1956 and in Sydney almost half a century later.

The 1980 Games in Moscow was groundbreaking and did much to create understanding after the long years of the Cold War.

The Asian influence on the Olympic Games and thus to the world was significant in host cities such as Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing.

Dubai 2020 would be the first time the Olympic Games would be held in the Middle East and this would be of mutual benefit to the region and to the whole world.

2. Unique Culture
The Olympic Games takes on a certain color and character from the city and the country where it is staged. There would be a unique Emirati, Arabic and Middle Eastern flavor that the 2020 Games would acquire, that the Olympic movement and its global spectators have never yet experienced.

By its charter the Olympic Games are commissioned to “encourage and support initiatives blending sport with culture and education” so this would be a significant contribution to a region that would experience lasting benefits from hosting the 2020 Games.

3. 2020 Vision
The UAE and the Middle East have an ancient and rich sporting tradition but Dubai, with nearby Abu Dhabi, has proved to have both the finance and the flair for the staging of major projects and sporting events in horse racing, the F1 Grand Prix, golf, tennis and in 2010, the America’s Cup.

The city of Dubai has exhibited a ‘can do’ spirit led by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum or ‘Sheikh Mo Mentum’ as he is being called in the USA.

Don’t you think there is a certain ring to ‘Dubai 2020’ when one thinks of the vision in this city that has been caught and converted into many impressive projects?

But Dubai is a young city and there is much more to be envisaged and created. If the IOC is charged with selecting venues according to the potential of the host to be encouraged in its “organization, development and coordination of sport and sporting competitions”, then this would be an enduring gift and impetus that the Olympic movement would give to Dubai, the UAE and the Middle East.

4. Playing it Safe
Much political advantage is being made at the moment by the BMW Oracle Racing team about the safety of the UAE as a venue for the America’s Cup in February 2010. Specifically the question has been raised about the proximity of Ras al Khaimah to Iran. This is a trumped up view and another expression of the acrimony between the defender and challenger.

When residents of the UAE travel to western countries, the first question they are often asked is, “Are you safe living there?” A perception of unrest has been cultivated by the media who for years has forged notions of the ‘Middle East’ with images of war and terrorism. Many UAE residents who have lived in the USA, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom will testify that they have never felt safer than when living in the Emirates.

5. Playing for Peace
It is recognized that the Middle East has its ‘hot spots’ and certain parts have experienced long-standing conflict. To stage the 2020 Games in the United Arab Emirates would make a powerful statement about “the role of sport in the service of humanity” and would do much to promote peace in the region and throughout the world.

Other Stories and Related Sites
The National Newspaper Seeks Readers in Fujairah, Fujairah in Focus, 2 October2009.

It’s a Wonderful World in Dubai, Experiencing the Emirates, 2 October 2009.

BMW Oracle Rejects UAE Venue Citing Consent and Safety Issues, America’s Cup in the UAE, 2 October 2009.

Dying to Work or is Work Killing You? Stories for Speakers and Writers, 2 October 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at) on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Dubai 2020—five rings of confidence.