Qatar replaces San Diego as host of inaugural World Beach Games
Qatar has been drafted in to host the 2019 ANOC World Beach Games, the Association of National Olympic Committees has announced, less than a month after San Diego withdrew from hosting the inaugural edition, with problems in raising corporate sponsorship cited as the reason.
ANOC said: “The Qatar government has provided ANOC with financial guarantees and has a proven track record in successfully hosting international events, including world championships in swimming, handball, gymnastics and cycling.”
Qatar is also the controversial host of the 2022 Fifa World Cup, having been criticised over its treatment of migrant workers during construction work for the games and for alleged corruption in bidding to host the event, allegations it has strongly denied.
ANOC said: “In order to prevent disruption to the NOCs and their athletes, the sports programme will remain unchanged and the dates of the games will be moved back just a few days to 12-16 October. There will also be no impact on the ongoing qualification process which has seen more than 70 NOCs qualify across the 14 sports, with athletes from up to 90 nations ultimately expected to compete.”
Qatar will also host the ANOC general assembly and awards, which will now take place immediately after the games on 17 and 18 October.
Gunilla Lindberg, ANOC’s secretary general, said: “Work has been continuing to ensure our inaugural ANOC World Beach Games is a universal, elite event, with more world-class athletes from around the world qualifying every week. The games was conceived with the needs of NOCs and athletes in mind, and ANOC is in no doubt that the decision to relocate the inaugural edition to Qatar makes prudent financial and sporting sense.
“We are delighted to have established a partnership with the highly experienced team at the Qatar Olympic Committee, backed up with the enthusiastic support of the Qatar government.”
The decision to switch the location of the games to a different continent and time zone raises question marks over contracts already in place, including a deal agreed last year for multi-platform coverage via NBC, the Comcast-owned US TV network, plus NBCSN, the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
The games have had a troubled gestation. In April last year, ANOC and the Global Association of International Sport Federations agreed to form a 50-50 partnership to run the World Beach Games through a jointly-held event company registered in Switzerland. The board consists of equal numbers of GAISF and ANOC representatives, with a presidency that will rotate between the two stakeholders.
The agreement came four years after ANOC and SportAccord, as GAISF was then known, signed off on plans to create the World Beach Games and three years after that same plan was ripped up.
The inaugural co-organised edition was due to be staged in 2017, but, in April 2015, SportAccord, under the presidency of Marius Vizer, suddenly announced that the World Beach Games would be organised only “with support of participating international federations” in Sochi in 2019.
SportAccord’s plans were derailed, however, by the subsequent exit of Vizer, who quit after losing the support of various stakeholders following an astonishing attack on the International Olympic Committee, its president Thomas Bach and his pioneering Agenda 2020 reform programme.
The games are geared towards attracting the world’s top athletes, with live musical performances every night, to create an event that ANOC has said will be “compact, competitive and compelling.”
From 2021, the sport programme will be determined in agreement with the IOC and in principle no Olympic events will be included in future games.