Sports and COVID-19: Qatar leading the way by hosting top events: Al Mannai

2021-02-24 | Since 2 Month

The press conference

Doha, 24 February 2021 - Qatar is leading the way by hosting top international sports events since September last year, a top sports official said.  

This week, Al Shaqab, a member of Qatar Foundation, is organising CHI Al Shaqab for the eighth time and the world’s top riders will be seen in action in the Olympic disciplines of showjumping, dressage and para dressage. 

Organisers have confirmed that 85 riders from 27 countries - along with 138 horses - have arrived in Doha to compete in the Feb 25-27 event which will be held at the Longines Arena at Al Shaqab.

Exactly two weeks ago, Qatar hosted the FIFA Club World Cup for the second time by staging matches involving world's renowned six continental clubs. 

That was the third major football tournament - won by Bayern Munich - staged in Qatar in the last six months despite global sports calendar in complete disarray following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year.

Omar Al Mannai, Event Director, Commercial Bank CHI Al Shaqab Presented by Longines, and Commercial Manager, Al Shaqab, yesterday said: “Qatar has set an example by hosting top sports events at this time. We have hosted different sports.”

Al Mannai added: “The world of sports is using Qatar as an example. Thank God we have delivered successful events while adhering to strict safety and health protocols needed to host such events.”

“I also give my thanks to the wise leadership of the country for supporting us to host such top events. Be it the FIFA Club World Cup, tennis, golf or even our own equestrian events at Longines Arena at Al Shaqab, Qatar has attained great expertise in putting things together to host events that the world follows. Qatar has been doing it since September 2020,” Al Mannai said during a pre-event press conference that was conducted with safety and health protocols. 

“Today we are proud the way we are making this event a reality in COVID-19 times. We have adopted many priorities to make everyone safe. We are committed to Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) precautions regarding the coronavirus. We have decided to allow 10 percent of fan attendance of venue capacity,” Al Mannai said. 

“Tickets will be available at the entrance and  are also available online. There will also be coffee shops. This will be an enjoyable event for fans. We are in communication with MOPH. We begin our events at 8 in the morning and end at 8 in the evening. We are not basketball or football. Ten percent (of fan attendance) is a big number. It may look small but it is an acceptable number. 

“There are other measures taken too like cancelling of fan activities around the venues but there will be massive media coverage through beIN Sports Channel, Al Kass Sports Channel and through our social media platforms. 

“Let me assure you, great efforts have been made to host the event at this time. We have got great support form our partners. We have always wanted to host this event with sustainable activities and we did that 100 percent over the years. That’s because of the support we get from our sponsors,” Al Mannai said.

Al Mannai said the love of equestrian sport in Qatar has grown manifold since the first edition held eight seasons ago.

“This kind of economic activity in the country is linked with Qatar 2030 vision. Now we have people interested in buying horses. The number of owners has also increased. There’s massive interest in equestrian sport. This will be the best event so far,” he added. 

“The number of international riders is same like last year which is about 85 coming from abroad. There are more than 100 riders in the country. There will be bubble-to-bubble environment for the participating riders. There will continuous COVID-19 tests during the event. We are trying to control the social distancing aspect. MOPH teams are cooperating with us,” Al Mannai said. 

Hussein Ali Al Abdulla, EGM & Chief Marketing Officer, Commercial Bank, said yesterday: “I’m delighted that Commercial Bank will once again be the Title Sponsor of CHI Al Shaqab. We’re looking forward to being a part of a truly exceptional equestrian competition. Commercial Bank appreciates the importance of sports in the social and economic development of Qatar, and we are committed to supporting Qatar’s vision to be an international sporting hub.”

He added: “We are happy to be associated with this event. We are very keen for the safety of all at this event. This activity is one of the most important events since this series helps us to protect and develop our heritage sport. We want young riders to be part of this activity.”

Ahmad Al Ali, Program Manager, The Social & Sport Contribution Fund (Daam), said yesterday at the press conference: “Daam is delighted to be involved in this world-class event. Daam’s vision is to make a positive difference in the community by supporting social and sports activities such as CHI Al Shaqab, in alignment with Qatar National Vision 2030. We believe that Daam’s support and commitment to the development of horsemanship in Qatar will play a role in encouraging young riders to pursue a passion for equestrian sports.”

He added: “This event is for young Qatari riders. We are safeguarding our heritage sport. We are protecting our culture and developing young riders. We want to focus on this thing. This activity has not only helped our economy but the country also stands to benefit a lot.”



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