Johannesburg - Just as South Africa pulled out all the stops in preparation for its hosting of the soccer world cup in 2010, Qatar has started rolling events in the lead up to the world cup in Doha which will start on the 18 November this year.
The Qatar embassy in South Africa has been hosting sporting days at the University of Pretoria at the High Performance Centre every second Tuesday in the month of February, to generate enthusiasm and spirit ahead of the much anticipated event.
"We want to promote a sporty mindset, and to spread a culture of sport, peace and development." Qatar's Ambassador to South Africa Tariq al Ansari told Independent Media.
Despite the pouring rain last Tuesday, the diplomatic corps and local South Africans came out in full force to participate in table tennis, karate, soccer and a myriad of other activities, in a gathering of around 300 participants, which has been very rare during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The preparation for the world cup began 10 years ago when we started building big advanced stadiums, as well as major infrastructure such as tunnels, bridges, subways, and telecommunications. In the first week of selling tickets 1.2 million tickets were sold," Ambassador al Ansari said.
The tickets are reported to be more affordable than those of other world cups, and South Africans are able to travel to Qatar without applying for visas..
Compounds and buildings have been built to accommodate visitors to the world cup, and local Qataris are preparing to host visitors in their homes.More information on accessing such accommodation is available on the embassy website.
The embassy is planning to open its door for special viewings of the world cup matches at the end of the year.
* Shannon Ebrahim, Group Foreign Editor