After a tumultuous year that saw major sporting events like the Olympics cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, Qatar hopes advances in vaccines will allow the country to host “a normal and successful World Cup” in 2022 after sinking billions of dollars into the tournament.
- 2022 World Cup CEO Nasser Al-Khater told the Associated Press that organizers had worried how the pandemic would affect the giant soccer tournament, slated for the tail end of 2022.
- Professional sports leagues have cautiously resumed play with measures in place like keeping players in bubbles, prohibiting fans from attending matches and shortening seasons, all precautions Qatar is optimistic it could avoid.
- With vaccine rollouts on the horizon, he’s hopeful that by the time the next World Cup rolls around, “things will really be back to complete normal.”
- However, the tournament will be unique in some aspects: it will be the first World Cup tournament to be put on by a country in the Middle East, as well as first to take place in November and December because of Qatar’s hot climate.
- “One thing we learned from the pandemic is that many leagues were able to adapt,” Al-Khater said of concerns the shift could mean for scheduling league matches.
Qatar has invested tens of billions of dollars into the tournament in the decade since the country was voted by FIFA to host the 2022 iteration of the soccer tournament. The planning has been plagued by allegations of corruption into FIFA’s host selection process. Experts are split on how soon day-to-day life can go back to normal after the pandemic. While some say countries like the U.S. and the U.K. could return to normalcy a year from now, others are less optimistic about the prospects, saying people may need to social distance and wear masks until 2025.