QATAR Olympic Committee’s Sport Affairs Department Director Khaleel Al Jabir was all for the creation of a loyal fan group for national teams across disciplines.
“Lack of supporters at stadiums is a matter of grave concern for us,” said Al Jabir, who insisted the national federations must take the initiative to create a strong fan base.
“It all depends on how you want to promote your sports. If you sit back and relax, then don’t expect people to come to you. I understand that many people are keen on being part of the entourage when Team Qatar is in action overseas. You’ve to provide them with all support and make their journey hassle-free,” he said.
“We had taken people, mostly some of our competitors’ family members, to the Rio Olympics. It was a memorable experience for them to understand Brazil and its culture,” he said.
Al Jabir, who also heads the Qatar Swimming Association (QSA), said it had always made efforts to ensure strong crowd presence at major aquatic events held in Doha.
“We’ve done it in swimming with a high degree of success, especially during the 2014 World Championships. The QSA has mainly used social media to draw more fans. We’ve already started the run-up for September’s FINA World Cup Doha leg. I’m sure there’ll be many takers if you pursue your goals aggressively,” he added.
Al Jabir stressed Qatar should drive its sports tourism plans far more aggressively as it would also enable the country to showcase its rich heritage and tradition to the outside world.
“The successful organisation of 2006 Asian Games, 2010 IAAF Indoor Worlds, 2011 AFC Asian Cup and Arab Games, 2014 Swimming World Championships and 2015 Handball Worlds, to name but a few, has underlined Qatar’s potential as a hot destination in terms of sports tourism.
“We can further improve it if we offer the travelling fans an all-inclusive package. I would rather prefer Qatar Holidays, the tourism arm of official carrier Qatar Airways, to do it.
“On the part of QOC, we encourage the idea. The International Olympic Committee also wants the NOCs to promote sports tourism,” added Al Jabir.