In Pictures

One-off major sports

events in Qatar

Qatar has already broken many boundaries in the world of sports in the Middle East by being one of the first Arab nations to put together a number of global championships and events. As preparations for the football World Cup 2022 continue, here is a list of some spectacular sporting events Qatar has already played host to


Khalifa International Stadium (opening ceremony)

Asian Games

This was the first Asian multi-sports event held in Qatar celebrating Asian games and athletes while also helping to shed light on Arabic and Asian cultures. Qatar is the second country in West Asia to host such a prestigious event, and the country made sure it was a memorable one, with 424 events taking place for the 39 featured sports over 15 days. This was the first time that all 45 members of the Olympic Council of Asia participated while around 10,000 athletes took part.

Khalifa International Stadium hosted the games with both the opening and closing ceremonies taking place here. The stadium was first built in 1976 but later renovated in anticipation of the 2006 games, allowing seating capacity to cater for 50,000 people. Another 23 other venues were used for the games, including the Hamad Aquatic Centre and the Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence.


Venue: Hamad Aquatic Centre

FINA Short Course World Championship (25m)

Scores of world records were broken when Qatar’s Hamad Aquatic Centre played host to the FINA World Swimming Championships. Initially, this 14th edition of the championship was meant to be held in Catania, Italy, but the Italian Swimming Federation withdrew their support for the event. FINA then announced Qatar as the new host for the event on April 4, 2012.

Around 968 athletes participated in the championship representing 174 nations, where 23 records were broken — 15 by women athletes and seven new records for men. Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú alone broke four records.


Venue: Lusail Sports Arena

World Men’s Handball Championship

This was the 24th edition of the Men’s Handball Champion which was held for the first time in Qatar, and the third time it was held in the Middle East and North Africa region, following Egypt in 1999 and Tunisia in 2005.

The Lusail Sports Arena, Ali bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena and the Duhail Handball Sports Hall were the main venues for the event. The Lusail Sports Arena, in the new town of Lusail, is a multipurpose indoor arena in the Al Ahli Sports Village that opened in 2014. The arena, which seats up to 15,300 people, was specifically created for this championship, with the building’s dome inspired by traditional Islamic architecture.


Venue: Super Heavyweight World Champion Tony Yoka from France

AIBA World Boxing Championship

Qatar hosted the amateur boxing event in October 2015 at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya arena. Special celebrity guests attended the opening ceremony of the event — which was a qualifier for the 2016 Summer Olympics — including renowned boxers Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan.

The event was broadcasted to over 112 countries garnering over 500 million views. The nation who won the championship with the most medals was Cuba while Russia came second. One of the prizes from the championship included 23 tickets to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.


Venue: Men’s Junior Road Race

UCI Road World Championships

This was the first time that a Middle Eastern country hosted this event. Due to the nature of the sport, the date had to be moved from the usual month of September to October due to the warm Qatar climate. In the 89th edition of this championship, there was a road race for the Elite, Junior and Under-23 groups, as well as a team time trial for the Elite, and a time trial for the Elite, Juniors and Under-23s for both the men and women competitions.


Venue: Aspire Dome

FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships

The 48th edition of the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships was held from October 25-November 3, 2018, at the Aspire Academy Dome in Doha, Qatar — the first Middle Eastern country to host the event. It took place at the state-of-the-art Aspire Dome which has the ability to hold 13 events simultaneously in a controlled climate. The building itself won an IOC/IAKS Distinction Award in 2007.

Around 206 nations participated in the event with 1,772 athletes. Six championship records were broken and three world records were set.

Photos: 1 – Bryn Lennon / Getty Images, 2 – Streeter Lecka /Getty Images, 3 – Clive Rose / Getty Images, 4 – 2015 Handball/Facebook, 5 – Warren Little / Getty Images, 6 – Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Stay up-to-date with our stories about Qatar and Russia

Stay up-to-date with our stories about Qatar and Russia