DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — Will the winter Olympics be held in a desert one day? According to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the answer is yes.
Sheikh Mohammed, who has ruled Dubai since 2006, announced the intention to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in the Emirate of Dubai. If selected, it would be the first Olympics held in the Middle East.
“In the past, the International Olympic Committee has avoided awarding the Summer Olympics to the region due to our hot summers,” Sheikh Mohammed said in a press conference. “What we realized when Sochi hosted the Olympics successfully is that ‘not being cold enough’ is not a problem when hosting the winter games.”
“Dubai has the largest ski resort in the region,” Sheikh Mohammed continued. “We also have the resources and funds available to create essentially anything we need to host the winter Olympics.”
The planned bid centers around major construction projects to create venues suitable for various winter events. The proposal includes an artificial alpine slope built on sand piled 2,500 feet high and covered with artificial snow, a Space Mountain-style underground sliding tracks for sledding events, a 3-mile-long covered cross country ski tracks and a myriad of other indoor venues. The plan projects that “only several hundred” migrant workers are expected to die during construction.
The bid was met with speculation across various winter-sport associations. Athletes were particularly concerned as the tight fitting clothing worn in most events will have to be modified to accommodate the local traditions.
“It is Dubai’s ambition to host the Olympics before Doha does, which has already shown interest in hosting the summer games like a bunch of greedy attention-hungry fools,” Sheikh Mohammed said. Qatar is the host country of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
IOC President Thomas Bach expressed positive interest on the bid, considering the historic nature of a new country hosting the games. He downplayed concerns over the lack of natural snow, noting the excellent artificial snow used in Sochi. Bach declined to comment further on the bid while walking towards his brand new Bugatti Veyron, which he described as a “gift.”