Saturday, November 12, 2011

No Air-Conditioning For Qatar World Cup With Temps Expected Above 106 Degrees?

I'm not going to immediately call this a disaster of epic proportions, but Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup (in part) on their assurance that the weather would not be a concern.

This is something akin to a city in Alaska winning a bid to host the Super Bowl on the basis of getting a dome built, and then deciding to build an open-air stadium instead.

Originally, Qatar officials told FIFA they could bring the temperature down to 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 degrees Fahrenheit), but John Barrow, the architect behind much of the new construction needed in Qatar, is shooting down the idea that air conditioning the stadiums is a feasible idea.
"It doesn’t need to be 26°C," he added. "Fan expectation needs to be a little more relaxed."
Perhaps he's talking about local fans.  Here are some average high temperatures for some cities around the world in June:

  • London: 68 degrees
  • Cape Town, South Africa: 64 degrees
  • Mexico City: 76 degrees
  • Cairo: 93 degrees
In Doha, Qatar, the average high temperature in June is 106 degrees and is usually the hottest month of the year.  It's not uncommon for the temperature to rise as high as 122 degrees.

Barrow wants to use more traditional means of cooling already in place in the Middle East.  Specifically, using large wind towers to circulate the air and shading the stadium during the day.  

Again, I don't want to prematurely declare this a disaster, but I can't see this working.  Even if it's at a mild 85 degrees (probably a lovely day for natives), that's a very high temperature for players mostly used to playing games around 70 degrees.  

Most soccer fans will also feel the heat.  International soccer fans are typically in a high energy state during the games.  Plenty of loud cheering, singing, and physical movement could cause many fans to faint or suffer from heat exhaustion.

We'll see how FIFA responds to this in the future.  Qatar promised something that they now can't deliver, and they probably knew that at the time of their bid.  I wouldn't blame FIFA for pulling out of Qatar for this World Cup, and they'd have every right to do so.

No comments: