Dubai’s decision to withdraw from hosting the 2013 World Swimming Championships brings the Gulf’s readiness to hold world sporting events into sharp focus.
After winning the rights to the host the event Dubai has decided to pull out as the host nation for swimming’s premier competition. In response, the organiser of the competition, The Federation Internationale de Natation (Fina), said that it is important for the Middle East to further develop aquatic sports in the region before it hosts the world championships.
Lack of sporting tradition was also cited as a key reason behind Qatar’s failure to win the rights to host the 2016 Olympics.
However, these failures have not put off states in the region from bidding for sport’s major events. Qatar has recently launched a bid to host the 2022 World Cup, and Dubai is preparing to bid for the Olympics in 2020. Both countries have pledged to spend large sums of money on infrastructure and facilities for the events if they are successful with their bids.
But countries require more than wealth to win the rights to host the major events. The Olympics and the World Cup are both long-established events, and a certain degree of sporting legacy is seen as a key component of a successful bid.
Money can build infrastructure, but when it comes to sport, it doesn’t always mean you win.