Keep sports away from Gulf politics, says ANOC

The Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) showed faith in Qatar’s ability to host marquee events like the 2019 IAAF World Championships, the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the 2023 FINA World Championships.

Sport has played a key role in opening up the Gulf region to the world.   -  Getty Images

"Sport must be separate from politics," the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) pleaded Monday, as Qatar remains diplomatically isolated from some Gulf neighbours over accusations the emirate supports extremism.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were among a string of countries which this month cut ties with Qatar, raising major concerns over instability in the region.

Doha though, denies accusations that it funds jihadists.

The ANOC, headed by Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah-whose country has not backed the blockade, "expressed its hope that the international sports movement in Qatar would not be endangered by the geopolitical situation in the Gulf region".

"The Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) and the neighbouring National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in the Gulf region are valuable partners to the world's Olympic Movement and have significantly developed sports in their countries in recent years," it said in a statement.

"Sport has also played a key role in opening up the region to the world. Last year, the QOC brought together the world's NOCs in Doha and hosted a fantastic ANOC General Assembly and ANOC Awards.”

"Under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar has shown itself to be a very willing and capable host of international sports events and will bring the world back to the region when it hosts the 2019 IAAF World Championships, the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the 2023 FINA World Championships and other international sports events."

The ANOC added that it "sincerely hopes that the geopolitical situation regarding Qatar will be resolved soon and that it won't impact on the incredible value that Qatar brings to the sports world."

"Sport must be separate from politics in this Gulf issue."