The Qatari capital of Doha was named host of the 2019 Athletics World Championships on Tuesday, just days after the Gulf state’s football officials were cleared of corruption by FIFA in their successful bid for the 2022 World Cup.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced Doha had beaten off Barcelona and Eugene, Oregon, to the dismay of the two human rights groups.
A recent Amnesty International report into Qatar claims some migrant workers are victims of forced labour there and treated appallingly by subcontractors employed by leading construction companies in a sector rife with abuse.
“We’re stunned and still in shock, our impression is that our pleas are going unheard,” Regina Spoettl, Amnesty International’s gulf states expert, told SID, an AFP subsidiary.
“We expect that sports events aren’t carried on the backs of millions of exploited workers.
“We are concerned that because of the IAAF world championships, even more migrant workers will have to work in inhuman conditions.”
Qatar has come under the media microscope since winning the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with doubts thrown up over corruption, its human rights record and treatment of its massive foreign workforce.
Human Rights Watch also criticised the IAAF’s decision.
“We are very surprised that the IAAF has awarded the world championships to Qatar, because the public debate on human right and labour rights there has already been running for two years,” Human Rights Watch Germany’s spokesman Wolfgang Buettner told SID.
“The awarding already shows an ignorance about the situation of migrant workers.
“If the situation of migrant workers had improved, then you could say that the awarding was a kind of reward, but that is not the case as the situation hasn’t changed.”