What is it about Middle-Eastern theocracies that makes them so attractive to world sporting bodies?
First we had the announcement that Qatar would host the 2022 World Cup, despite being the least hospitable place on the planet, outside of a live volcano, for playing soccer, and now we learn that the World Athletics Championships will take place there in 2019.
What on earth could this roasting-hot theocracy have to offer that makes it better than all the rest of the candidates?
Could it be the stoning to death of adulterers?
Perhaps it’s the floggings of people caught drinking.
Maybe it’s the judicial killing of non-believers, the jailing of blasphemers or the execution of homosexuals?
Any of these things would of course be sufficient grounds to award the contract, but maybe it’s because Qatar offers the whole package, and also offers the advantage that the sporting stadiums will be constructed with the sweat of migrant labourers who have no legal protection, who will live as slaves in filthy conditions and who stand a strong chance of dying in a work-related accident due to non-existent safety standards.
Maybe that’s what swung it for Qatar.
Maybe we should make a point of only awarding world sporting events to countries run by ignorant religious extremists who care nothing for human rights.
Just to keep things equal, next time we should award some major event to a non-Muslim centre of ignorant extremism. Burma, perhaps.
And after that, how about giving it to Mr Putin, a man so imbued with Christian principles he can’t even bring himself to pronounce the phrase Pussy Riot without gagging.
That way, at least, the Qatari world cup and athletics events will have achieved something, if only to show the world that bigotry and stupidity are not confined to Muslims, although certain Muslims are bigoted and stupid enough to make that a hard task.
I’m not sure if Burma has funds to do the sort of palm-greasing necessary when a country is trying to attract a major event, but Vlad the Impaler is not short of a rouble or two, especially with the announcement of a new BRICS super-currency to rival the petrodollar, so I suppose it’s inevitable that we’ll be talking about the Moscow World Cup before long. The Buddhist tyrants of Myanmar might have to wait until they strike oil like Qatar’s corrupt sheikhs.
How much would you say it costs to secure an event like the World Athletics Championships?
Who would you have to buy and what palms would you say need to be greased?
And what does Qatari law say about bribery?