It’s protocol and property rights in Doha

GINA COLEMAN reports on the place of research-driven merchandise, home-delivered ticket sales and intellectual property rights in the year’s biggest event
Merchandise for the Games has already gone on sale

OFFICIALS of the Olympic Council of Asia, together with Chefs de Mission of National Olympic Committees, are all delighted with preparations for this December’s 15th Asian Games according to Abdullah Yousuf Al Mulla, director of protocol and international relations at the Doha Asian Games Organising Committee, DAGOC.

The Athletes’ Village, which will house 10,500 athletes and Games officials moved into ‘operational mode’ in August, and will open in mid-November. All main buildings and accommodation are complete.
Speaking to TTN, Al Mulla said all Asian Games Family visitors (those accredited for the Games in one way or another) will be using the new temporary Games terminal at Doha International Airport for their arrivals and departures whereas other visitors to the country at the time will be processed through normal channels.
Representatives from the next host city, China’s Guangzhou, have already visited Qatar and will be in town during the Games as observers, he said.
Acknowledging the sensitivity of protocol issues for such a major event – involving 45 countries and regions – Al Mulla said an Australian advisor with experience of the Olympic Games has been appointed to ensure everything runs smoothly with regard to the use of national flags and anthems. “Each National Olympic committee has to approve and sign off what we are using so there are no misunderstandings. We have over 420 events, so we need multiple copies of anthems to use at different venues. And some anthems are too long to play in full, so we need edited versions which – again – must be approved.”
Meanwhile advance ticket sales, which started at the end of May, have seen a very positive response, say DAGOC officials. Over 500,000 of the 1.4 million tickets were released for the first phase of the sales, including 10,000 tickets each for the opening and closing ceremonies. All these were ‘souvenir’ format and are being delivered free of charge in November. In the second phase, from September to the end of the Games, tickets are being printed on point-of-sale thermal printers.
Prices for tickets range from QR5 ($1.4) to QR20 for sports events, to QR500 for the opening ceremony, and QR150 for the closing ceremony. A number of sales counters have been set up in Qatar but tickets can also be purchased online at, and through the National Olympic Committees of participating nations.
Half the purchase price for tickets will go to Reach Out to Asia, the Qatar-based charitable organisation founded by the Emir’s daughter, Sheikha al Mayassa, which aids poor and disaster-stricken regions of Asia and has also extended relief to Lebanon.
The first wave of official Games merchandise went on sale in August, tying in with the ‘back to school campaigns’. Qatar’s public schools started their new academic year earlier than usual – on August 15th – so that schools can close early for the December Games, releasing teachers, administrators and students as volunteers or spectators.
A limited test-marketing trial of Games merchandise was conducted during the Qatar Summer Wonders Festival in 2005; according to DAGOC officials, that was a very limited range, most of which has been continued and will be supplemented by a wider selection.
On offer are ranges designed around the Games logo, their mascot Orry and defining moments in sports.
Ahmed Abdullah Al Khulaifi, deputy director general, corporate support, DAGOC, says: “The merchandise has been carefully planned according to AC Nielsen research, which indicated specific consumer behaviour towards sports merchandise including pricing, brand association and specific products. We have made sure that all merchandise is affordable, so everyone can celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and keep a souvenir for ever.”
Research, he says, shows that 95 per cent of all merchandise sales for Olympic and Asian Games come in the final quarter before the event, explaining the timing of the launch.
In a landmark first, Doha 2006 is the first Asian Games in which a law has been passed to protect the Games’ Intellectual Property Rights; it is also the first time that the Asian Games logo has been filed for protection in the European Union. Authorised merchandise is either indicated with a tag, a note on the package or by a mark on the item itself.