Qatar brings first newly-built 2022 World Cup stadium to life
Robie de Guzman • May 17, 2019 • 6118
Qatar inaugurated the first of seven new World Cup 2022 stadiums on Thursday (May 16), just weeks before a crucial FIFA summit will decide whether to expand the tournament and potentially push it beyond the tiny Gulf state’s borders to accommodate a larger format.
Fans packed into the Al Janoub stadium, a 40,000 seat venue designed by late architect Zaha Hadid and made to resemble the sail of a dhow, or traditional wooden sailboat, to cheer on Qatari teams playing in the final of the Emir Cup, a local tournament for the country’s club sides.
The inauguration comes as soccer’s world governing body FIFA floats a plan to expand the next World Cup to 48 teams from 32, which could require a last-minute co-host despite a protracted dispute between Qatar and some of its neighbours, bans on alcohol and a lack of facilities restricting likely candidates.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a political and trade boycott on Qatar since mid-2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism, which Doha denies.
That rift has strained efforts by FIFA President Gianni Infantino to push for a suitable Word Cup co-host even as qualifying matches begin early next month.
FIFA will host its annual congress in Paris on June 5, where it is expected to make a final call on the expansion, though any decision must be signed off by Qatar, the first Arab country to win hosting rights for the tournament in 2010.
The finals will start in November 2022, having been moved from the usual June-July slot to avoid the searing summer heat.
Al Janoub, a fully air-conditioned stadium which kept the temperature 10 degrees lower than the 29 Celsius outside during Thursday’s inauguration match, was previously called Al Wakrah after the city hosting it just south of Doha.
However, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani tweeted before the match that it was being renamed.
It is one of seven venues built from scratch for the 2022 World Cup, with an eighth stadium renovated and opened in 2017.
Qatar has pushed ahead with an ambitious scale-up of its infrastructure ahead of 2022 that includes $6-8 billion on stadiums and sporting facilities, part of efforts to use the tournament to diversify its energy economy and project itself on to the world stage through sport. (REUTERS)
Thousands of people in Baghdad continued their protests at Tahrir Square in central Baghdad on Monday (October 28), defying a curfew scheduled to be imposed from midnight until 6am (2100GMT to 0300 GMT).
Protesters took to the streets for a fourth day, despite having endured bloody clashes over the weekend and an overnight raid by security forces seeking to disperse them.
At least 74 Iraqis were killed and hundreds wounded across the country on Friday (October 25) and Saturday (October 26) as demonstrators clashed with security forces and militia groups in the second wave of this month’s protests against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government.
More than 200 people have been killed in October so far.
Iraqi security forces on Monday fired tear gas at school and university students who defied a warning from the prime minister and joined anti-government protests.
A spokesman for Abdul Mahdi, whose position is increasingly precarious as he faces the largest challenge since he came to power a year ago, said on Sunday (October 27) that anyone disrupting work or school days would be severely punished.
Mass street protests in Baghdad and other cities in the southern Shi’te heartland against economic hardship began at the start of the month and resumed on Friday after a pause of about two weeks. (Reuters)
Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s remains had been disposed of and there were no plans to share footage on his death, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley announced on Monday.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that al-Baghdadi had been killed in a U.S. military operation in Syria.
Trump said earlier that part of the footage on the operation would be released, but military sources said that the footage might expose some confidential information about the U.S. military, adding that the footage should go through strict checks before it is published.
The Associated Press on Monday released footage taken by a witness when the U.S. military launched a raid in northwestern Syria — but the authenticity of the footage has not been verified.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday expressed “prudent welcome” to Baghdadi’s death, saying the U.S. has made a big contribution to fighting terrorism “if confirmed”.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that it does not have reliable information about the U.S. operation in the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria that allegedly killed IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Monday stressed that the extremist ideology and the support for it still exist in the Middle East, and the death of Baghdadi was a “creature” killed by the U.S.
On the same day, Iranian government Spokesman Ali Rabiee said al-Baghdadi’s death is the end of a symbol of “destructive terrorism,” and the U.S. should end its interventions in the Middle East. (Reuters)
The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) on Tuesday (October 29) unveiled the new Ariake Gymnastics Centre, which will host Gymnastic and Boccia events during the Tokyo 2020 Games.
The 12,000-seat, 30-meter height venue, whose construction was completed on 25 October, has no pillar in the performance area.
The central element of the architecture is a 90-meter spanned, local larch wood roof that arches over the building’s core.
Timbers of Larch were all domestically sourced including from Hokkaido, Nagano and Miyazaki prefectures to name a few.
The venue, located in the Ariake district of the Japanese capital that will host many other Olympic events, will be also used as an exhibition center when the Games are over.
One of the Tokyo 2020 officials at a press viewing of the venue, Koichi Fukui, told reporters that wood materials would eventually be used as partitions at exhibitions and all the bench boards would be recycled into shoe shelves for schools.
The venue will host the 34th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships in November. (Reuters)
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