Qatar will require spectators at the 2022 World Cup to have received coronavirus vaccines to get into games, the government has announced.
Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani told Qatar newspaper editors that the Gulf nation is trying to secure a million vaccine doses to immunize fans wanting to watch the tournament.
“When the date of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 comes, most countries of the world will have vaccinated and immunized their citizens,” Sheikh Khalid was quoted as saying by state media on Sunday. “Due to the possibility that some countries will not be able to vaccinate all their citizens, Qatar will not allow fans to enter stadiums without receiving a full vaccination against the virus.”
Qatar has recorded 585 deaths and 220,800 cases during the pandemic. The Middle East’s first World Cup is due to start Nov. 21, 2022.
“We are currently negotiating with a company to provide one million vaccine doses against the coronavirus for the immunization of those coming to the FIFA World Cup Qatar,” Sheikh Khalid said. “Our primary goal in vaccinating the unvaccinated is to protect the public health of citizens and residents.”
FIFA and Qatar World Cup organizers had no immediate comment expanding on the prime minister’s remarks.
Qatar’s buildup to the World Cup since winning the FIFA vote in 2010 has been dogged by concerns about human rights violations and the treatment of the migrant workforce building the infrastructure, including eight stadiums.
But in Norway on Sunday, an extraordinary congress of the country’s soccer federation voted against boycotting the World Cup if the national team qualifies.
Some top-division clubs in Norway, such as Rosenborg and Tromso, and grassroots organizations were among those advocating a boycott. The Norwegian Football Association had recommended against it, instead preferring to push for more measures to improve discriminatory laws and conditions for the migrant workers.
At the vote, 368 delegates voted against the boycott, while 121 were in favor.
By Rob Harris