Sport in Qatar
Qatar is passionate about sport. Like every successful athlete, we are determined to better ourselves, push our boundaries and break down barriers.
That is why we designated the second Tuesday of every February a public holiday – National Sport Day.
The first National Sport Day was held in 2012. Its purpose is to promote participation in sport, with hundreds of sporting events taking place throughout the country.
“Sport day reflects, from year to year, the commitment of the Qatari people to the gains that have been achieved in the State and gave it a privileged position on the map of sports in the world.”
Qatar has a strong track record of hosting international sporting events, developing sporting talent and investing in world-class training facilities.
Sport plays a major role in the Qatar National Vision 2030. Our ambition is to become a global leader in sports and bring the world together through sustainable sports development, building on our achievements to date.
A global hub for sport
Qatar has played host to more than 500 international sporting events in the past 15 years, across all sports and age groups.
In 2019, Qatar hosted the 2019 IAAF World Championships in athletics between 27 September and 6 October at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Throughout the years, Qatar has been the venue for many other international championships, including the 2006 Asian Games, the 2015 Men’s Handball World Championship, the 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championship, the 48th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, the International Handball Federation Super Globe and the 2019 ANOC World Beach Games as well as the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup. We also look forward to hosting the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup, the IJF Masters 2020 and the 2023 FINA World Championships.
Annual international tournaments held in Qatar include the ExxonMobil Qatar Open (tennis), the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters (golf) and the MotoGP Superbike Championship.
We are also incredibly proud to host the 2022 World Cup, the first in the Arab World, to help change perceptions and drive development across the entire region.
“Doha has become a beacon of pride, thanks to the guidance and directives of His Highness the Amir, who has established Qatar’s global status, and made sport one of the important factors in the pillars of sustainable development of the country.”
A strong tradition of domestic sporting excellence
Qatar not only welcomes international athletes but also develops its own sporting talent, with Qatari athletes competing at the highest levels of international sport.
In 2012, Qatari swimmer Nada Mohamed became the first female to represent Qatar at the Olympics in London.
The first-ever Olympic silver medal for Qatar was won by high-jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim at the Rio Olympics in 2016. A year later, he won a gold medal for Qatar in the IAAF World Championships in London and was named Men’s Athlete of the Year by the International Association of Athletics Federation. And in 2019, Barshim won a second gold medal at the IAAF World Championship in Doha, becoming the first man to defend the world crown.
Qatar was also represented at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. Two of our athletes – Abdulrahman Abdulqadir and Sara Masoud – took home silver medals.
Another sports star in Qatar is rally driver and clay pigeon shooter Nasser Al Attiyah, who has won three Dakar Rally titles – in 2011, 2015, and most recently in 2019. He also won a bronze medal for clay pigeon shooting in the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Qatar is also home to a number of successful international sports teams. Our handball team won the Asian Men’s Handball Championship four times in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020, and brought home a silver medal at the 2015 Handball World Championship.
Moreover, the Men’s national football team has emerged as a force in Asian football. The national team recently had its most successful tournament of all time, winning the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup and moving Qatar from 93rd to 55th place in FIFA’s latest world rankings. The team has additionally won the Gulf Cup three times, in 1992, 2004 and 2014. Qatari footballer Akram Afif was also named 2019 Asian Player of the Year at the Asian Football Confederation’s annual awards in Hong Kong.
To ensure that we continue to nurture athletic talent, the Qatar Olympic Committee launched the Team Qatar Club, a new online sporting community that aims to inspire young people to participate competitively in sports. This builds on our Be an Athlete programme that nurtures a new generation of Qatari sporting champions.
Our world-class training facilities
In addition to hosting sports tournaments, Qatar has invested significantly to ensure that it has the very best in sports training and medical facilities readily available to athletes from all over the world.
Aspire Academy is a highly advanced youth sports academy, both in terms of its strategic ambitions which are aligned to Qatar National Vision 2030, and its student-athlete development methodology.
Since its establishment in 2004, Aspire Academy has been mandated to provide training and education to students with sporting potential, in an exceptional sporting and learning environment. The academy has set itself the ambitious target to be, by 2020, recognised as the world’s leading sports academy in the development of youth athletes. In 2017, Aspire received an award for best Arab sports organisation.
Each year, Aspire engages more than 6,000 young children (ages 6–12) through sport and football skill development and talent identification programmes throughout the country. The most talented boys are offered scholarships to join Aspire between the age of 12 to 18 and develop in the Academy’s “core” sports (football, athletics, squash, table tennis, and fencing) as well as in federation sports.
Student-athletes and graduates such as Mutaz Essa Barshim, Ashraf El-Seify, Abubaker Haydar, Abdulla Al-Tamimi, Bassem Hamida, Moaz Ibrahim and lately Owaab Barrow have successfully represented Qatar at international competitions.
Aspire Dome is an IAAF accredited training centre and has also played host to many sporting events – from the 2006 Asian Games to the 2018 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships.
Furthermore, many international athletes choose Aspire as a destination for their training camps and in the winter months, world-renowned football teams such as Manchester United, Everton FC, Ajax Amsterdam, FC Bayern München, Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke 04, Zenit Saint Petersburg, and many more are regularly seen at Aspire during their winter break.
Qatar is also home to world-class sports medicine facilities. Aspetar Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital is the first specialised sports hospital in the Middle East and the Gulf region, having been accredited by FIFA as a sports medicine centre of excellence in providing high-quality medical treatment for sports-related injuries in a state-of-the-art facility. Many high-profile sportsmen and women from around the world have received treatment at Aspetar.