Qatari cycling event foreshadows 2022 World Cup strains

News Hour:

Competitors at a world cycling competition in Qatar this month may have enjoyed the hospitality but they also struggled in a swirl of heat, wind, dust and humidity.

If the presence of such top cyclists as Peter Sagan and Marc Cavendish for the UCI Road World Championships fed the Gulf state’s ambitions of becoming an international sporting capital, the event also highlighted some of the strains the country could face when it hosts the soccer World Cup in 2022, reports Reuters.

Qatar is using its wealth to host a flurry of big competitions, including the Asian soccer cup, the Men’s Handball World Championships, and the FINA World Swimming Championships. It is expected to bid for the 2028 summer Olympic Games.

But the push, led by a young emir, is costing billions at a time when low oil and gas prices are crimping budgets. And there are other obstacles.

In Qatar’s extreme heat, cyclists stuffed ice packs down their jerseys to try and keep cool as temperatures reached 39 degrees Celsius (102 Fahrenheit).

The riders struggled in strong desert winds, common throughout the year. On Oct. 9, Dutch cyclist Anouska Koster, crashed off her bike during a race due to heatstroke.

Seeking to allay concerns about the heat, Qatar is planning at least five stadiums with built-in air conditioning — some using solar power — that it says can be used all year round.

FIFA said in 2015 that the World Cup would be switched to winter when temperatures still reach the mid-20 degrees Celsius (75 Fahrenheit) to avoid the fierce heat of June and July.

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