Qatar Joins the Bidding for the 2036 Olympic Games After 2016 and 2020 Misses

The small oil-rich Middle Eastern nation of Qatar has formally launched its bid to host the 2036 Summer Olympic Games. These Games are the next up for grabs after the Los Angeles 2028 and Brisbane 2032 Olympics.

The move was first telegraphed in 2022 in the wake of hosting the FIFA Men’s World Cup in soccer, but this week gained traction with domestic reports that proper bid files are being prepared.

Qatar would be the smallest nation by population to host either the Summer or Winter Olympics. That title currently belongs to Finland, which had a population of roughly 4 million when it hosted the 1952 Games. Qatar currently has a population of around 2.6 million, with The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Population Division) projecting a population of around 2.9 million by 2036.

At 4,468 square miles (11,570 square kilometers), it is also by far the smallest in land area. Belgium hosted the 1920 Summer Olympics at almost three times the size of Qatar (11,787 square miles/30,528 square kilometers), though the country was much larger then thanks to its overseas colonies, especially the Belgian Congo in Africa.

The country, while small, has vast oil resources, however, that allow it to compete for mass-scale events like the Olympics. The country ranks 55th in the world with an IMF-estimated $244 billion nominal GDP expected for 2024. That makes its economy similar in size to much larger countries like New Zealand, Greece, Nigeria, and Hungary.

Qatar joins a long list of bids by would-be first time host nations for the 2036 Games, and along with other oil-rich Middle Eastern nations is trying to use sports tourism as one means of diversifying its economy. Saudi Arabia is also considering a bid to host the event, which would be held two years after the country hosts the 2034 Asian Games and 2034 Men’s FIFA World Cup (soccer).

Qatar has most recently hosted the 2024 World Aquatics Championships, an event that was jammed into unusual timing in the pre-Olympic year as a ripple-on effect from the COVID-19 pandemic. The country also hosted the 2006 Asian Games, the 2022 Men’s FIFA World Cup in soccer, the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, and is scheduled to host the 2027 FIBA Basketball World Cup and the 2030 Asian Games.

The Asian Games generally attract more participants and sometimes more visitors than the Olympic Games.

Qatari officials are boasting that 80% of the necessary facilities to host the Olympic Games already exist, which is a key metric in bid evaluation as part of the IOC’s new sustainability measures. Qatari newspaper Al-Watan first reported that the country has already begun having conversations with the IOC and preparing a “comprehensive bid file.” Qatar previously bid to host the 2016 and 2020 Summer Games, but was not shortlisted in either year.

While IOC President Thomas Bach has said that “double-digit” number of countries have expressed interest in hosting the 2036 Games, India (Ahmedabad), Indonesia (Jakarta), and Germany (Rhine-Ruhr region) are considered the most serious contenders for now. Several other countries, including Ukraine, Spain, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Mexico, have either withdrawn their bids or postponed them to 2040.

The 2036 Games carry a significant political weight as the event will mark the 100-year anniversary of the infamous Nazi-hosted 1936 Olympic Games. Germany has presented their bid as an opportunity to mark the country’s changed attitude in that time period.

Qatar is currently locked in a political battle with Israel over Qatar’s hosting of an office of the group Hamas in Doha. Qatar is currently playing a role as mediator between Hamas and Israeli officials in the ongoing conflict in Gaza. The country has also faced criticism for its own human rights record, including reports that between 2010, when the World Cup was awarded, and 2020, over 6,500 migrant workers had died in Qatar.

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2 months ago

It probably won’t happen because it is Europe’s turn and July/August in Qatar will be too hot for some sports (e.g. open water swimming) as well as too hot for most spectators.

2 months ago

How does a country that deliberately bribed their way to a World Cup get to bid for the Olympics

Reply to  Peter
2 months ago

Any country can bid and do you honestly think the IOC are not open to bribes?

2 months ago

So long as they fix the curved ceiling in the aquatic centre so the poor backstrokers can stop hitting the lane ropes

Fast and Furious
2 months ago

Terror Olympics, sounds fun

2 months ago

If Qatar wins the bid, It wouldn’t be surprised is they won 0 medals from non naturalised athletes.

Additionally, this would completely ruin the qualification system as surely host country places need to be reconsidered.

Reply to  Swimmer
2 months ago

Montreal is the only summer Olympics in history where the host nation didn’t win a gold. Presumably this would join that.

2 months ago

My guess is: Bach is German… he’d love a home Games. But Germany will withdraw before the decision. They’ll put it up for a referendum and the public is going to vote “hell no!” (also, they’re too cheap to pay the necessary bribes and after Paris AND LA didn’t either, the IOC would like a few extra million coming in). So petty Bach is going to give it to Qatar out of greed and spite.
And then we’ll have a “Winter” Olympics instead, because nobody wants to die in that heat – which will only be a lot worse by 2036.

Last edited 2 months ago by FST
2 months ago

The first Olympics where 90% of the crowds are locals and forced to be there

Reply to  Horninco
2 months ago

The majority of ‘locals’ are foreign workers. Qatari citizens only comprise about 10% of the population.

Greg P
Reply to  Horninco
2 months ago

Someone has zero knowledge about the composition of Qatar population

2 months ago

Girl no

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Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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