May 20, 2020 / 4:06 PM / 5 days ago

Qatar aims to keep World Cup affordable despite COVID fall-out

A general view shows the Lusail stadium which is under construction for the upcoming 2022 Fifa soccer World Cup during a stadium tour in Doha, Qatar, December 20, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - The head of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup organising committee has vowed to ensure the tournament remains affordable for fans despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy.

The gulf state will host the 32-nation tournament in November and December 2022 and while Hassan Al Thawadi, head of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, is hopeful the public health situation will be vastly improved he acknowledges the ripple-effects for the economy will be a challenge.

“What is recovery going to look like? It is all, right now, unclear, we are entering into a recession, there is always a concern about the global economy and the ability of fans to be able to afford travel and coming to participate and celebrate the World Cup,” he said, speaking at Leaders in Sport’s online forum, LeadersWeek.direct.

Al Thawadi said he had been consulting with industry experts and also planned to engage with other major sports events, such as the Tokyo Olympics, which has been postponed to 2021 from this year, as Qatar looks to respond to the crisis.

A key element in planning, he said, would be to ensure that the event did not price-out supporters.

“We have always said from day one that this will be an affordable tournament, we want anyone who wants to come to the World Cup to be able to come,” he said.

“Now, with the uncertainty of what it is going to look like post-COVID, there is no clear blueprint that I can sit down and discuss.

“(But) we are still committed to creating a balance between an affordable World Cup, at a price-rate which is affordable for fans, and at the same time a price-range which is affordable and functionable for the industry, for the service providers, for the supply chain, that is in responsible for delivering the World Cup,” he added.

Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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