DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Hit hard by the global economic crisis, the Gulf city of Dubai decided Friday not to bid for the 2020 Olympics and will focus instead on a possible candidacy for the 2024 Games.
A feasibility study found 70 per cent of the infrastructure demands were already in place but that a “a bid would be better timed for 2024,” the National Olympic Committee of the United Arab Emirates said.
Dubai has been among the leaders among Gulf cities which have used sports to raise its profile and attract tourists. It first hinted in 2009 that it might bid for the 2020 Games but the economic crisis hit the city hard and forced it to roll back its ambitions.
There also have been concerns about the heat, which routinely exceeds 40 degrees Celsius and likely would impact many of the outdoor events including the marathon, triathlon and walk event.
Another Gulf city – Doha, Qatar – is still weighing a possible 2020 bid.
Dubai’s hereditary ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, insisted that Dubai would one day bid for the Olympics.
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“Hosting the Olympic Games in the Middle East would be a dream come true for the entire region, and we fully intend to place a bid once I am totally satisfied that we are prepared to host the greatest sporting event in history in a way that would add value to the Olympic Movement itself, as well as the youth of the Arab world,” he said in a statement.
“Whilst I am satisfied that infrastructure and Dubai’s experience in hosting top class sports events would see us well placed to win a bid, I do believe that much more has to be done in order to leave the lasting human legacy that celebrates the Olympic values.”
Madrid, Rome and Tokyo have formally announced bids for 2020. Istanbul is also expected to enter the race.
South Africa announced last month it would not bid, but has indicated it could still reverse its decision. The United States has also not ruled out a bid if it reaches a new revenue-sharing deal with the IOC.
The deadline for submission of bids is Sept. 1.