Ready or not, here come the big Games

Torchbearers take the flame from the cauldron to light 45 lanterns

Speaking after the ceremony to light the Asian Games ‘Flame of Hospitality’ on October 8th, the Olympic Copuncil of Asia (OCA) Director General commended Qatar on the preparations it has made for the Doha 2006 Games in December.

Sporting venues are ready to host the 423 events that make up the 39 sports; complex transportation plans are in place to ensure competitors are all delivered to training and competition venues with good time to spare; the Athletes’ Village will open on November 15 to receive the first of the13,500 athletes and Games officials who had been registered (by numbers but not by name) by early October to participate in the Games; and ticket sales from booths in Qatar and over the Internet were going well. Hala Ramzy, director of marketing and public relations at the Doha Asian Games Organising Committee (DAGOC) told TTN, “They have exceeded all expectations. So far, the events or venues that have proved to be the most popular are: the opening and closing ceremonies; the Aspire venue, which covers indoor sports such as track cycling, gymnastics, boxing, badminton and so on; football; the Khalifa Complex multi-sport venue; swimming, cue sports, table tennis, judo and so on. We have sold tickets in each and every sport. Online sales from Qatar and abroad accounted for 35 per cent of sales at that stage.”
Hotel rooms have already been reserved and set aside for all the Asian Games Family officials; serviced apartment blocks have been prepared for the influx of media. The Doha Asian Games Broadcast Services (DAGBS) is ready for the transmission of live coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies and all the sports (excepting chess and equestrian endurance) to over 1.5 billion regular viewers around the globe; and the IT and telecommunications systems have been thoroughly tested. The main media centre and the media centres at the venues have been equipped with every facility to make it easy for reports to be filed around the clock and a special Games website for the media will be updated every 10 seconds to ensure they have the latest results.
All the telecommunications systems have been put in place, and – as with all Olympic events – additional power generation facilities have been put in place to guarantee an uninterrupted supply at every venue.
Security is obviously a prime issue with any major sporting event in the world and extremely detailed plansd have been put in place. The competitors have their own medical facilities within the Athletes Village, but every venue is also prepared to handle medical emergencies, with teams on-site.
Over 30,000 people registered as volunteers to take part in the Games and 17,000 of those were chosen to assist with all the many different activities, given full training and are being issued with their Games Uniforms.
Competition venues have gone through rigorous checking, hosting prestigious ‘test events’ to make sure everything is running smoothly. And the new temporary Doha 2006-dedicated arrivals and departures terminal at Doha International Airport will open to receive visitors from November 8.
Speaking to TTN, Abdullah Yousuf Al Mulla, director of protocol and international relations at DAGOC said: “All Asian Games Family visitors - that is all 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. Each National Olympic committee has also seen, approved, and signed off the flags and national anthems – in full or abbreviated form – that we are using so there are no mis-understandings. We have over 420 events, so we need multiple copies of anthems to use at different venues. ”
Games Merchandise has been selling well, with new waves of products gradually added as Games time approaches and DAGOC set a precedent by registering the copyright for the Games logo and materials not just in Asia but also in Europe.
The man behind the Sydney Olympics opening ceremony expects that the opening extravaganza of the 15th Asian Games Doha 2006 will be a night to remember. David Atkins says, “It is a bigger show and a bigger budget than the Sydney Olympics. The show is much more complicated, much more advanced technically, and bigger in terms of what we are trying to achieve.” The ceremony is expected to draw twice as many viewers as the Games themselves - around three billion .
Apart from the official Asian Games website which carries information on all aspects of the Games, there is a call centre – 8002006 – which can answer queries on events, organisation, and anything Games-related.

by Gina Coleman