Doha : 'Qatar World Cup will set health benchmark'. FIFA president believes 2022 spectacle will set standard for global sporting events.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Thursday year's World Cup finals in Qatar will become a ''benchmark'' for holding future global sporting events during a health crisis.

The Qatari organisers of the 32 nations event that starts November 21 and runs till December 18 said they are ''cautiously optimistic'' it will be the first mass gathering of sports fans for a global sports event since the coronavirus pandemic erupted two years ago.

Spectators have largely been forbidden from attending last year's Tokyo Summer Olympics - save for a few events outside the Japanese capital - and the ongoing Winter Olympics in China.

FIFA announced this week that requests have been made for 17 million tickets for the first World Cup in the Arab region and sought to reassure fans about safety measures during an online health conference organised by the Qatar authorities.

Football has a duty ''to make sure this not only the best World Cup ever,'' Infantino said in a recorded statement for the event.

He added that the health and security standards will be ''benchmark for the future sporting events of this scale.''

The same message was given by World Health Organisation director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who highlighted the ''unique challenges'' faced by the organisers because of the pandemic.

WHO has been working with the Qatar government on health security, infectious diseases, food safety, coordination and communication during the World Cup.

''The lessons learned from Qatar's experience in this World Cup will help us all in designing health and safety measures for other large scale events,'' Tedros added.

Neither FIFA nor the Qatar organisers, who have spent billions of dollars preparing for the event, have said what would happen if a new coronavirus wave threatens the event.

But Hassan AI Thawadi, director general of the government's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said : ''While the pandemic is still very much here with us, we can now see real light at the end of the tunnel.

''In our eyes, the pandemic has given Qatar 2022 a new significance. [AFP]


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