Dubai Olympic plan

The next games could be held in the UAE

Senior sports officials have reacted enthusiastically after Dubai's ambitious plans to attract the 2020 Olympic Games were revealed yesterday, according to a report in Gulf news.

Ebrahim Abdul Malek, secretary general of the General Authority of Youth & Sports Welfare, said hosting the Olympics was the "ultimate ambition" of any country while former world powerboat champion Saeed Al Tayer welcomed the "fantastic opportunity for Dubai to further establish itself in the international sporting arena".

Yesterday, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, issued a decree setting up a committee to explore the potential of Dubai to host the Olympic and Paralymic Games in 2020 as part of the Dubai 2020 initiative.

"The Dubai 2020 initiative will look at how we can shape our environment and society for future generations," Shaikh Mohammad said in an official statement released from his office. "It will address, in an integrated way, the building blocks that underpin social and economic progress - sport, education, culture, business, science, technology, health and the environment.

Two global events - the Olympic Games and World Expo - give us a sense of common purpose and play to our strengths."

The 2020 Olympic Games committee will be chaired by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, while Sheikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, head of the National Olympic Committee (NOCwill be the vice-chairman.

Abdul Malek hoped the vision of Sheikh Mohammad will help Dubai edge out other leading cities to become a genuine contender to host the Games.

"The Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world and is the ultimate sporting ambition of any country," he told Gulf News. "Bidding for the Games will mean a lot of work and preparation in terms of planning and developing infrastructure. But the UAE has been successful in hosting big events and with the support of our leaders we can hopefully make a successful bid."

Al Tayer, chairman of the UAE's iconic new horseracing development, Meydan racecourse, agreed with Abdul Malek.

"Dubai has a wealth of know-how in organising major events and has already established itself internationally," he said. "This [Olympic bid] is a continuation of the vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad.

"We have seen dreams and aspirations being realised in the past and this can also be achieved."

Leading UAE endurance rider and long distance runner Ali Al Muhairi said the proposed Olympic bid "is a matter of pride for the people of the UAE and a huge motivation for all sportspersons", while UAE hockey captain Ahmad Al Sayegh believes the emirates can be a strong candidate.

"We have all the ingredients that are essential to host the Olympics such as political stability, a great environment and sport loving people," Al Sayegh said.

"We have shown to the world how much a small country can achieve and we can continuing achieving."

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