By Sports Reporter/ Doha
The finishing touches have been made to the venues, and many of the 1,300 athletes have arrived for the inaugural ANOC World Beach Games Qatar 2019, which gets underway today and will run until October 16.
Almost 100 countries will be competing across four specially created venues that will host Olympic medallists, world champions and many of the leading names in each of the 13 contested sports.
The action begins today with the first matches in beach handball and beach soccer taking place at Al Gharrafa Beach Venue from 9am.
Europe has the largest representation with 35 countries fielding athletes, while 21 countries from Asia and 19 from the Americas will also participate. Athletes from a total of 17 countries from Africa and five from Oceania will also participate in the games.
At the official pre-event press conference today, held at the Qatar Olympic Committee, Local Organising Committee Director General, Jassim Rashid al-Buenain, said: “Qatar, as you know, has an impressive track record for hosting world-class sporting events, because of the vision and support of the Amir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
“The first ANOC World Beach Games represents another landmark occasion for Qatar. The nature of this event provides us with an opportunity to show the world what Qatar has to offer as a leading leisure destination. Our venues have been carefully selected with this in mind, ranging from the stunning beach front location of Kattara Beach, where most of the action will be centred, to the clear waters of Legtaifiya Lagoon.
“Whilst I am looking forward to watching some of the world’s best athletes in their sports competing for 350 medals, what particularly excites me is the prospect of seeing so many cultures and nationalities coming together for a celebration of fair play. Sport has the power to unite like nothing else, so I urge those travelling here this week to celebrate humanity in the best way possible. There will be awe-inspiring highs, and heart-breaking lows, but at the end of the day we will all join hands as one Olympic family. We have free access for the first World Beach Games. All spectators are more than welcome to attend and enjoy this experience,” added al-Buenain.
The opening ceremony is due to take place at the 5,000-capacity Katara Amphitheatre, close to the beach, tomorrow at 7:30pm. ANOC Secretary General, Gunilla Lindberg, said: “We would like to express our thanks to His Highness the Amir, the State of Qatar and everyone at the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) for their warm hospitality. In just three months they have achieved a huge amount and we have no doubt this will be a fantastic event.
“We have athletes from nearly 100 countries in Qatar guaranteeing that this will be a truly global celebration of beach, water and action sports. We cannot wait for the Games to begin and watch some of the world’s best compete on this global stage for the first time.”
The ANOC secretary-general has also promised a ‘nice’ opening ceremony for the inaugural World Beach Games. “We have asked the organising committee to consider these games for what they are,” said Lindberg.
“It is not the Olympic Games, we don’t want big or long ceremonies – we want the athletes to have fun. I am sure the ceremony will be nice but not extravagant, but I don’t know the details,” she added.
The competition programme includes a mix of beach, water and action sports with 3×3 basketball, kitefoil racing, open water swimming (5Km), aquathlon, karate individual kata, beach wrestling, beach tennis, beach soccer, beach handball, beach volleyball, bouldering, skateboarding, waterski jump and wakeboard all expecting world-class fields.
Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) has been named the official partner of the games while Katara Cultural Village and Aspire Zone Foundation are the official venue partners. The official sponsors are: Baladna, the largest dairy producer in Qatar; Mowasalat, a leading transportation company in Qatar; and Bornan, the prominent international sports technology company.
The official suppliers include: Xtreme Marine, a major supplier of boats and boats maintenance; Sports Corner, a top brand in sports apparel and equipment, and Al Rawda, the foremost Qatari water company.
Following the Games, the ANOC General Assembly will take place on October 17 to 18.
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