10/29/2018 12:08:03 AM (GMT+3)

Doha all set to host Arab region's first Artistic World Championships

Doha all set to host Arab region

DOHA, Qatar: International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) President Morinari Watanabe praised Qatar for realising the “dream” of hosting 48th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships.

“A big gymnastics flower has bloomed in the desert of Qatar. The meaning of this flower is courage,” said Watanabe at a Press conference on Wednesday, a day before the start of the global competition.

More than 500 gymnasts from 76 nations will converge on the Aspire Dome for an event where, for the first time, Olympic places are up for grabs along with 42 World Championships medals.

Besides, it will be the first Worlds to be staged in the Middle East and Watanabe applauded the efforts of the Qatar Gymnastics Federation (QGF).

“I came to Qatar for the first time for the Asian Games in 2006. At that time, gymnastics was nothing more than flower seeds. In just 12 years, Qatar has made the desert bloom with the flower of the World Championships. A dream is not something we have while we’re sleeping. A dream is something we realise,” added the Japanese.

Until 2018, the hosting of this competition was limited to Europe, North America, Australia and East Asia yet Doha is a familiar destination for many of the participants having staged an FIG World Cup each year since 2008, as well as the 2006 Asian Games.

“I offer my thanks to the QGF for showing their great courage. I hope the gymnasts will respond with some wonderful performances, watering the flowers that the federation has brought into blossom,” he said.

The event will provide the first qualification route for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

“We’re thrilled and honoured to provide the world's best gymnasts with the eager global media presence, optimal venue conditions and enthusiastic spectator support to make their important first strides towards the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo,” said QGF President and Chief Executive Officer of the Local Organising Committee Ali Ahmed Al Hitmi. “We are confident that, as the competitors in Doha challenge for world titles and Olympic berths, they will inspire fans and continue to propel the sport upward.”

The competition at the Aspire Dome will determine the winners of eight sets of medals for men (Team, All-around, Floor Exercise, Pommel Horse, Still Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars, and Horizontal Bar) and six for women (Team, All-around, Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, and Floor Exercise).

The three medal-winning nations in the Team finals for both men and women will earn team berths directly to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo while the others will have further chances to qualify in 2019 and 2020.

The Japanese men and American women are the reigning Olympic champions from Rio and defending world champions from the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow.

The team competition is not held at the Worlds in post-Olympic years.