Following Qatar’s pledge to spend $50bn in its bid to host the World Cup in 2022, Kuwait is tendering a design package for a multibillion-dollar Olympic Village.
The proposed sports complex is scheduled to contain a 70,000-80,000-capacity stadium and Olympic-sized swimming facilities. The planned Sabah al-Ahmed development will enable Kuwait to bid for the Olympic Games in the future.
If Kuwait does decide to bid, it is following the trend of Gulf states seeking to host major sporting events. In addition to its current World Cup bid, Qatar has previously attempted to bring the Olympic Games to Doha. Kuwait could have some competition as Dubai is also currently considering the feasibility of entering the bidding process to host the event in 2020.
Both of these countries have hosted international events in the past. Doha hosted the Asian Games in 2006, and both Qatar and Dubai host annual professional tennis and golf events. But Kuwait has made little impact on the international sporting calendar to date.
Kuwait has the money to invest in developing its sporting infrastructure. Plans to increase oil output to 4 million barrels a day by 2020 from the current 2.6 million barrels, means the state has cash to pump into sporting facilities.
Kuwait will face similar hurdles as its neighbouring Gulf countries in bringing major events to the region. The intense summer heat and lack of sporting legacy derailed Doha’s Olympic dream a couple of years ago, and may well result in its World Cup hopes falling flat.
The volatile nature of politics in Kuwait could also hinder its ambition. Earlier this year, Kuwait was suspended from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for state interference in the elections of sports organisations.
Building the Olympic Village will please citizens that the government is investing in sporting infrastructure. If Kuwait is to host a major sporting event like the Olympics in the future, it will require more than just an Olympic Village.