The second edition of the GCC Beach Games begun with a spectacular Opening Ceremony on Thursday, 2nd April at the beach basketball courts in al-Gharafa Club, one of the host venues of the Games. The action is set to continue until 9th April.
More than 300 athletes from Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia took part in the Parade of Nations during the Ceremony, which saw the heads of the visiting delegations also attend. Team Qatar will participate in all of the eight sporting disciplines with 65 athletes. President of the Local Organizing Committee and Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee, H.E. Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani gave the opening speech of the Games.
Speaking during the Ceremony, H.E. Sheikh Saoud said:
“Hosting the second edition of the GCC Beach Games is an honor for us and we hope that by hosting the Games we can raise the profile of beach sports in Qatar and the region. We have leveraged our years of experience in hosting major sporting events as well as our world-class facilities to ensure that this edition of the Games garners more attention for beach sports among youth in the region and all over the world.”
The Opening Ceremony also included various cultural festivities, including a traditional Qatari band that played throughout the night. After the first edition held in Bahrain in 2010, this year’s GCC Beach Games will be staged in Doha’s state-of-the-art facilities and iconic landmarks over an action-packed eight day sporting spectacle.
Katara Cultural Village is the second host venue of the Games, and will host open water swimming, rowing, sailing and air sports. Over 300 athletes from across the GCC will participate in 13 events across eight sporting disciplines, with Al Kass channel broadcasting the excitement live.
In addition to the athletes, the GCC Beach Games will see the participation of 70 team officials and 150 technical officials from the six GCC countries taking part. Aspetar, one of the world’s leading specialized orthopedic and sports medicine hospitals and the first of its kind in the Middle East, will provide medical services for the Games while the prestigious Anti-Doping Laboratory Qatar will handle the drug testing for the event.
The concept of a Beach Games was created by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) with the staging of the first-ever Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia in 2008, and is seen as a pioneer in bringing new sports to the sand. The Asian Beach Games have been held every two years since, with the most recent edition being hosted in 2014 in Phuket, Thailand. Its popularity and success led to a resolution at the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) General Assembly in November 2014 to launch a World Beach Games, with the first event set to take place in 2017.
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