Sport’s power to inspire outlined during WISH 2020
Under the theme, “One World, Our Health,” H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), delivered a keynote address at the 2020 World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), which is being held virtually from 15-19 November.
Tasked with overseeing all infrastructure projects and tournament preparations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, Al Thawadi spoke as part of an international panel addressing health challenges in major sporting events.
Al Thawadi primarily focused on measures taken to protect the Qatar 2022 workforce following the spread of COVID-19.
He said: “With over 18,000 workers mobilised on our infrastructure sites at the onset of the pandemic, we acted promptly to minimise risk of infection and ensure their safety, in line with our government’s public health protocols.
“This included demobilising those with existing health conditions and anyone our medical officials deemed most at risk – with no effect on salaries, and food and accommodation covered for any individual forced to temporarily relocate.”
Under the guidance of the local health authorities, the SC built its own 1,000-bed isolation facility to ensure the monitoring and maintenance of strict quarantine protocol to minimise the spread of infection. This was coupled with a robust awareness programme that focused on constant communication with the workforce.
“We conducted this through several channels, including multilingual awareness sessions with in-house health experts,” said Al Thawadi. “180,000 residents – including our SC workforce – were given access to an app focused on COVID-19 awareness and we initiated a mental health awareness campaign in partnership with the Ministry of Public Health and Hamad Medical Corporation.”
The SC closed the isolation facility in mid-August due to the significant drop in cases and continues to review the situation on a daily basis, following local guidelines to protect the health and safety of all workers.
Al Thawadi also discussed Qatar’s successful hosting of the Asian Football Confederation Champions League West Zone matches earlier this year, which were conducted within a strict medical bubble to protect participants from the spread of COVID-19.
The importance of sport returning as normal to improve people’s mental health and relieve the pressures of living in isolation was also mentioned by Al Thawadi.
He said: “I ask that we all remember the power that sport has to contribute to our shared cause, and to ensure we harness that power in the future for the sake of public health, community, and a brighter future for the generations to come.”
Looking forward, Al Thawadi spoke of the importance of being prepared to host the FIFA World Cup™ in 2022: “We certainly hope that by November 2022 we are able to play host to a global celebration in a post-COVID world. We sincerely hope that we’re able to welcome as many visitors as possible to our country – and to our region – many of whom will be visiting for the first time and experiencing their first taste of the Middle East and Arab world. We’re acutely aware of the socioeconomic effects of the pandemic around the world and are striving to offer an affordable and safe World Cup.”
Al Thawadi concluded by praising the work of medical professionals across the globe.
In addition to Al Thawadi’s keynote presentation, the SC also hosted a virtual booth that showcased the measures taken by the Workers’ Welfare programme to protect the tournament workforce during the global pandemic. The SC also contributed to a virtual booth set up by the Ministry of Public Health.