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Spaces of Mega Sporting Events versus Public Spaces

Qatar 2022 World Cup and the City of Doha

Abstract

In the last decades, many emerging countries have been staging mega sporting events more and more frequently. Among those nations, Qatar stands out for being the first Arab country to host a FIFA World Cup. With the rationale of diversifying its economy and promoting itself as a tourist destination, Doha, its capital city, has recently staged many international events and is literally under construction, undergoing important changes in terms of transportation, infrastructure, and sports facilities.
While hosting cities and organising committees often promote the supposed benefits of a mega event, experience shows an opposite trend: outcomes from staging major events are mostly harmful, and their effects are planned to last only for a short time. When it comes to sporting events sites, stadiums, and their precincts, they usually become under-used and very costly to maintain in a very short time, and their precincts are completely abandoned. What will be the destiny of the 2022 World Cup stadiums and infrastructure? How can this event be leveraged as a momentum of experimentation and sustainable growth of its capital city, Doha? Is it possible to transform the Cup’s stadiums and precincts into liveable, enjoyable and well-integrated public spaces and neighbourhoods?
This work focuses on the city of Doha, which hosted the 2006 Asian Games and will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and aims to identify strategies to plan and maximise the post-event use of event sites and venues, more specifically stadiums, to generate more liveable and sustainable public spaces. The article investigates Doha’s public spaces, and analyses the government’s legacy plans for the 2022 World Cup, with a specific focus on stadiums and their precincts. The research aims to be a warning to future hosting cities and presents a series of suggestions on how to best leverage the stage of mega sporting events to promote healthy and liveable public spaces.

Published:
Pages:57 to 80
Section: Space
How to Cite
Azzali, S. (2019) “Spaces of Mega Sporting Events versus Public Spaces”, The Journal of Public Space, 4(2), pp. 57-80. doi: https://doi.org/10.32891/jps.v4i2.1204.

Author Biography

Dr Simona Azzali is a lecturer and researcher in urban design at James Cook University (JCU) Singapore where she coordinates the Master of Planning and Urban Design and teaches modules on planning and sustainable urbanism. She is a member of JCU's Tropical Urbanism and Design Lab, an interdisciplinary team of geographers, architects, sociologists and planners interested in tropical urbanism, and JCU's Centre for International Trade and Business in Asia (CITBA).
Prior to commencing her appointment at James Cook University, she worked and researched for various renowned academic institutions as the National University of Singapore, UCL London, Politecnico di Milano, and Qatar University.

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