Qatar seems to have the whole bidding-for-world-sporting-events things down pat. It won the 2022 World Cup, even though it has little soccer history and has a climate that is wholly unsuitable for any activity that involves running. And last week, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced that Doha, Qatar, had won the right to host the 2019 world outdoor track and field championships (see note about running), beating out Eugene, Ore., by three votes.
Bloomberg has a story about how Doha won that vote and, shockingly, it involves piles of money:
Doha offered $37 million of new backing to track and field’s governing body minutes before officials voted to make the Qatar city host of the 2019 world championships, raising questions about how the Gulf state uses finance to bargain for sports events.
The proposal was in documents handed to the 27 executives of the International Association of Athletics Federations, or IAAF, before the Nov. 18 ballot. The group’s legal staff, after discussion, decided nothing prevented an increased offer just before voting, Roberto Gesta de Melo, a Brazilian IAAF executive, said in an interview. Doha beat Eugene, Oregon, by 15-12 after the elimination of Barcelona.
Somehow, this was all on the level, per IAAF rules. The $37 million includes “$30 million in sponsorship over five years from an unidentified bank as well as $4.5 million in merchandise sales and $2.5 million in media rights from Qatar-owned broadcaster beIN Sports,” Bloomberg reports.
The Eugene folks apparently did not have $37 million to offer, and thus lost the vote.
Some IAAF officials were not pleased with how all this went down. “All they have is money,” said ose Maria Odriozola, a Spanish IAAF executive (it should be noted that Barcelona was the other finalist to host the event, losing in the first round of voting). “In our eyes they have made a bad choice,” Ad Roskam, technical director of the Netherlands’ track and field federation, told Bloomberg in an e-mail.
Roberto Gesta de Melo, a Brazilian IAAF executive, told the IAAF that the group is happy with the result because it will take the event to a new part of the world, and that Doha’s last-minute largesse had nothing to do with the voting results, even if the event likely will be moved to the end of September and the beginning of October instead of August — when it’s usually held — because of oppressive summer heat in Qatar.