Dubai has withdrawn from hosting the 2016 SportAccord Convention, a major blow for the annual event as it continues its rebuilding process following a tumultuous year.
The Gulf Emirate has been in discussion with organisers in recent weeks, but ultimately decided not to press ahead with their bid.
There is speculation here that Doha could step in as a replacement.
Following the news, broken by insidethegames yesterday, however, that the Qatari capital would also replace Rio de Janeiro as host of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) General Assembly next October, this would be a major commitment, and nothing has been confirmed yet.
“Following a successful SportAccord Convention in 2010, Dubai was keen to explore the possibility of hosting the event again in 2016,” a Dubai spokesperson toldinsidethegames in a statement today.
“However, having been in discussions for the past few weeks with all those involved, a decision was taken not to proceed further on this occasion.
“Sport and events remain a strategic priority for Dubai and, while supporting SportAccord in the future has not been ruled out, our focus now is on the major events due to take place in Dubai over the next few months including the FINA Swimming World Cup, the Badminton World Federation Dubai World Super Series Finals and the Dubai Tour among many others.”
SportAccord Convention President Francesco Ricci Bitti has told insidethegames they were “very disappointed” when notified of Dubai’s decision yesterday.
They still have “more than one” other cities who they are talking with, he claimed during the ANOC General Assembly here, and they are now going to begin work on finding a solution.
In a statement sent out this afternoon, he added: “SportAccord Convention is very disappointed that the Dubai Sports Council has decided not to host the 2016 Convention.
“Our understanding was that we were very close to an agreement.
“However, Dubai is not the only option for 2016 and we will start working immediately to secure an outstanding location for next year’s meeting.”
There has been huge change within the sports world since April’s Convention in Sochi, with SportAccord President Marius Vizer resigning in May after 22 Olympic and seven non-Olympic sports withdrew or suspended their SportAccord membership.
This followed Vizer’s controversial attack on the International Olympic Committee and its President Thomas Bach in the Russian resort.
Russia withdrew from hosting up to the next five editions of the Convention in the aftermath of the row, but there remained a desire to resurrect the annual event, held since 2003.
A proposal to merge a downscaled version of SportAccord with the SportAccord Convention is due to be debated at a SportAccord Extraordinary General Assembly in Lausanne next month.
When speaking to insidethegames two weeks ago, Dubai Sports Council secretary general Saeed Mohamed Hareb claimed he was unworried by these issues and had receives reassurances that the Convention will remain a significant event on the calendar.
He also revealed they were in “final discussions” with SportAccord Convention to host the event and a final announcement had been expected before the end of the month.
insidethegames has been told the issue of time was a contributory factor behind Dubai’s withdrawal, with so many events already in their schedule, meaning adding another could prove too much.
Having not signed an agreement there was also a fear among officials in Dubai they would not have enough time to prepare properly.
Financial concerns may have played a part following the crash in oil prices in recent months.
By Nick Butler, this article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz