MUMBAI, April 21: Unfazed by the economic boycott by the Saudi Arabia-led bloc of countries, 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar are extremely confident of delivering a top-notch event and also expect a big contingent from India to attend football�s showpiece in the Arabian Desert.
�For us, sports and politics are separate, and so we are confident that our vision and meticulous planning that has gone in over the last eight years to accomplish it, will bear fruits in 2022 irrespective of the blockade imposed on Qatar,� World Cup CEO Nasser Al Khater told PTI in an e-mail interview.
�Our plan is to go smoothly irrespective of whether the illegal blockade imposed on Qatar is lifted or not,� Al Khater said when queried about the Saudi-led boycott.
�We have maximised the use of alternative shipping lines and air routes since the blockade was imposed. In addition to ports of other countries in the Middle East, we have also maximised the use of shipping lines to India, China and the ASEAN regions, namely Malaysia and Singapore,� he emphasised.
Noting that in the last World Cup in Russia the Indians constituted the third biggest group of ticket purchasers from countries that had not qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Qatar CEO insisted that things would be easier for the Indian fans �because of Qatar�s geographical proximity to India and the visa on arrival facility is extended to the Indian nationals�.
Al Khater said despite an advanced cooling system being put in place in all the stadiums earmarked for the FIFA World Cup matches, �its use will be limited to ensuring that the field of play is maintained at temperatures optimum for players performance�.
Stating that one of the venues � the Khalifa International Stadium � was ready to host matches in 2017 itself, Al Khater said that the remaining seven stadiums �will be delivered on time�.
Al Khater said at the redeveloped Khalifa International Stadium �the playing area was maintained at 23 degrees celsius right through the match despite the temperature outside being 40 degrees�.
However, he also explained that during November-December, 2022, when the World Cup will take place, the temperatures will hover between 20 to 30 degrees. � PTI