Qatar to Showcase Controversial Stadium Cooling Technologies for 2022 World Cup

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All World Cup stadia will utilise new zero carbon cooling technologies to combat Qatar's fierce desert heat (Getty)
(WFI) Some of Qatar's much-hyped stadium cooling systems for the 2022 World Cup are set to go on display at the 9th World Sport and Environment Conference beginning in Doha later this week.

Under the motto “Playing for a Greener Future”, the conference is organised by the IOC in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme and the Qatar Olympic Committee. IOC president Jacques Rogge will open the three-day conference at the Sheraton Convention Centre on April 30.

Today, Qatar Olympic Committee general secretary H.E. Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, said the conference would stimulate real discussion and provide thought-leadership to the global sports sector.

“Sustainability and environmental responsibility are crucial in shaping Qatar’s own future," Sheikh Saoud said in a statement.

"As a nation we are proud of our role as world leaders in sustainable technology and we are already transferring this knowledge and experience into the sporting arena through the use of zero carbon, solar technology that will be used to cool the 2022 FIFA World Cup stadiums and training sites."

Qatar 2022 organisers plan to use 12 stadia for the World Cup. Nine new stadiums are being constructed and three existing venues, including Khalifa Stadium, expanded at a cost of more than $4 billion.

The opening match and final is scheduled for an 86,000-capacity stadium in the new city of Lusail, less than 20km from downtown Doha. Designed with a continuous stand at one end, it has been likened to Liverpool’s iconic Kop.

All the venues will utilise new zero carbon cooling technologies to combat the fierce desert heat in the Gulf state, the country's biggest challenge in its preparations for the first World Cup in the Middle East.

FIFA inspectors visiting Qatar to evaluate the 2022 World Cup bid last September saw some of the second generation outdoor cooling technologies in action. Outdoor air-conditioning is already in place at Doha’s Al-Sadd Stadium.

But the much-vaunted "revolutionary" cooling technologies for the World Cup are still at the developmental stage.

In its evaluation report, FIFA ranked the bid an overall "high risk", bringing question marks about the experimental nature of the systems, pointing out that they are still to be deployed “in stadiums of a similar size to those used in the FIFA World Cup".

Sheikh Saoud said Doha’s bid to host the IAAF 2017 World Athletics Championships would use zero carbon cooling technology in the Khalifa Stadium similar to systems for the World Cup, if successful in its bid for the prestigious track-and-field event.

"Importantly, we are committed to working with sporting and other organisations across the world to share this technology and help ensure sport can be played year-round no matter what the local climate," he added.

Despite controversial calls earlier this year for Qatar and FIFA to move the tournament from the desert heat to the winter months to avoid health risks to players, World Cup organisers are sticking to their bid plans. Such a scenario would have involved radical changes to the international football calendar, while the IOC was also unhappy about a clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics.

INSIDER exclusively reported last week that Hassan al-Thawadi, CEO of Qatar's World Cup bid, had been appointed secretary general of the tournament's supreme council, the body that will ultimately oversee its local organising committee. Former bid chairman Sheikh Mohammed Bin al-Thani will sit on the supreme council board. Well-placed Qatari sources told INSIDER that he is expected to lead the local organising committee when it is formed in the next few weeks.

Among the topics on the agenda at the 9th World Sport and Environment Conference are: Ways of implementing the Olympic Movement’s Agenda 21 at global and local level; The role of sport in achieving goal 7 (environmental sustainability) of the Millennium Development Goals; and how to make sports events sustainable.


By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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