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27 February 2024

Sporting convention brings Dubai closer to Olympic bid

Princess Haya with Ahmed Al Sharif of Dubai Sports Council, which is hosting SportAccord Convention. (SUPPLIED)

By Keith J Fernandez

Dubai's Olympic dream has been given a shot in the arm as the city prepares to host the world's top sports networking event this April.

The SportAccord International Convention, to be held at Atlantis The Palm Jumeirah from April 25 to 30, brings together 1,500 representatives from 68 countries and representing 500 sporting organisations, including delegates from more than 100 international sports federations and organisations.

It is being hosted by the Dubai Sports Council, which is working with Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Princess Haya is also President of the Dubai Organising Committee for the 2010 SportAccord Convention, President of the International Equestrian Federation and a member of the International Olympic Committee.

SportAccord was formerly known as the General Association of International Sports Federations.

The event, which is held in a different country each year, will feature an exhibition, networking receptions and top-level conference sessions as well as the annual general meetings of sport governing bodies, including SportAccord, the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations and the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations. There will also be the City Forum, focusing on the needs and concerns of international cities that bid for and host sporting events.

"The convention is by far the world's most important gathering of the international sport movement and Dubai will provide the ideal platform to explore sport-related partnerships and sport infrastructure development," said Dr Ahmed Al Sharif, Secretary-General of Dubai Sports Council and Vice-President of Dubai Organising Committee.

Anna Hellman, Executive Director of Lausanne-based SportAccord Convention, said Dubai's place at the crossroads of West and East made it ideal to express the global role of sport and of the organisation.

"This is a great chance to showcase Dubai," she told Emirates Business. "Not only is Dubai a leading trade, tourism and business hub, it is also a city with an enviable infrastructure as well as considerable experience of hosting world-class events."

The convention serves as a sort of ultimate networking platform and several cities looking to host events use the event to present themselves and their facilities to this gathering of key decision-makers in international sport as well as to learn more about the dynamics involved in staging such events. With hosting the Olympics in 2020 one of Dubai's stated goals, the event will only work in the emirate's favour.

"To win a bid of that kind, cities must host continental events, world championships and other such events to build a reputation and basically show they can handle such events," Hellman said.

The emirate has already established itself as the venue for some of the world's top sporting events such as Dubai World Cup, the UIM Class 1 World Offshore Powerboat Championship, the A1 Grand Prix Of Nations, the Dubai Tennis Championships and the Dubai Desert Classic. Dubai will also host the Fina 25-metre Swimming Championship 2010.

A conference closes out SportAccord, with experts and industry leaders debating such issues as the changing geography of the world, the autonomy of sport, sustainable development and sponsorship. The confirmed speakers are Princess Haya; Sheikh Ahmed Al Fahad Al Sabah, President of the Olympic Council of Asia; Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general; and Sepp Blatter, President of Fifa, among others.


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