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2022 World Cup: Safety Report Essay

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Updated: Jul 20th, 2021

Introduction

Prominent events, especially those that are related to sports tournaments, always attract large crowds of people to a particular location for a short amount of time. Such a rapid change in a place’s population density can lead to many hazards, both social and environmental. In the winter months of 2022, Qatar will welcome huge numbers of visitors to watch the World Cup football tournament (Brannagan & Giulianotti 2014).

Thus, the country’s duty will be to make sure that all arriving guests, tourists, players, and locals are safe during this time. Qatar may need to accommodate more than 1.5 million people in an extremely short period of time, which will put high pressure on the hospitality industry, the police, volunteers, and medical organisations.

The main aim of this report is to analyse the risks that may arise at the various events’ locations, as well as in the neighbourhoods where visitors will be staying. A key objective is to identify various dangers and their probability in order to direct the attention of officials to the most prominent issues. The second objective is to investigate these hazards in more detail, providing greater insight based on previous tournaments and similar events. This report will also attempt to develop strategies to effectively prevent, minimise, or resolve problems before and during the tournament. Finally, this examination will be complemented with suggestions for delivering safety-related information to visiting supporters.

Scope

In order to present the scope of possible risks, one has to analyse the nature of the tournament, as well as understand the location, the state of Qatar. The event, the FIFA World Cup, takes place in multiple locations (usually major cities) in a country for the duration of approximately one month. It is hosted by a nation of choice, and FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) is responsible for helping with the organisation as well.

Prior to the announcement of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, all past events have been held during summer months, in June and July. However, as Qatar is a state with high temperatures and a subtropical, desert climate, the organisation decided to move the dates of the 2022 tournament to November and December (Brannagan & Giulianotti 2014). This is the first change that may lead to a variety of problems, including fire risks, potential conflicts with players and team representatives, and visitors’ health during the travelling period.

Other issues may arise due to the concentration of people from different regions into one area. For instance, the rate of infections, especially conditions related to the digestive system, may increase as some visitors will consume unfamiliar or contaminated food. In Brazil, the 2014 World Cup had a similar problem, with visitors arriving with no vaccinations or being unaware of potential adverse food choices (Ritter & Tondo 2014; Shoaf, De Castro & Miranda 2014).

Acclimatisation of guests is another possible health concern, which may affect persons from countries with a colder climate in particular. A high concentration of people in stadiums can lead to physical trauma caused by the crowd’s movements.

Thus, analysing the risks of previously held World Cup events, as well as the unique traits of the Qatar region, one may identify a number of possible issues. First of all, a major hazard is fire – fire safety is crucial to such big events, especially if they are held in dry, hot climates. Other potential problems include the dissemination of infectious diseases, social issues which are exacerbated by the inflow of visitors, including transportation and accommodation, as well as enforcement and regulation of the alcohol ban (Rowe 2016). Finally, one must consider people’s concerns with regard to the multicultural nature of the event.

Risk Analysis

The first hazard (H1) that one should talk about is fire. This is a danger that can result in substantial damage to people, property, and the environment. As such, fire can be considered a moderate to significant threat level, which also has a high degree of probability. It is possible that the choice to hold the World Cup during the colder months is a decision that will lower the risk of fires. Nonetheless, the temperatures in Qatar will most likely still surpass 20°C, which may have some impact on the structures that will be utilized during the tournament. Fires can appear for a variety of reasons – materials or equipment can overheat under the sun or due to malfunctions of cooling equipment, wiring and insulation. An additional hazard is that the starting location of some fires can be concealed from the public and responsible safety personnel.

In terms of fire safety, multiple issues may arise in places with a high concentration of visitors. For instance, hotels can encounter increased numbers of tourists whose accommodation will lead to additional strain on appliances. Moreover, hotels with out-dated or unchecked devices for fire detection and prevention can cause danger. The lack of proper exit strategies, information, and untrained personnel constitute another risk and increases the potential impact of fires. Another point to consider is people’s awareness and behaviour in fire prevention and management. Visitors can contribute to the issue themselves, increasing the atmosphere of panic and disrupting the actions of responsible officers.

The second hazard to be discussed (H2) is the spread of infectious and other diseases. These may include both low-impact diseases, such as the common cold, and more serious conditions, including foodborne illnesses. This threat is highly possible, with an insignificant to moderate risk rating. For example, Ritter and Tondo (2014) discuss gastrointestinal disorders that can lead to hospitalisation, and even death.

These problems may occur if people consume unwashed, undercooked, or incorrectly prepared products or liquids. Something as simple as drinking unclear water can result in large groups of people becoming affected by bacteria. Here, the source of infections can come from restaurants and other venues that serve food to visiting supporters. Similar to the previous hazard, cities involved in the tournament are primary targets for this problem, in particular the hotels, stadiums and the surrounding cafés. The outcome of multiple infection cases can include a major outbreak and high rates of hospitalisation, resulting in healthcare workers having to care for an increased number of patients.

The third possible threat (H3) is the inability of a cities’ infrastructure to accommodate an increase in population. This issue includes multiple concerns such as an overloaded transportation system and lack of available living space for visitors. People will arrive in multiple cities at the same time, putting additional strain on airports, public transportation, as well as car sharing and renting services. As a result, the host cities will have to navigate ways to make sure that all visitors have transportation to reach their hotel, stadium or other desired location. At the same time, hotels will have to accommodate more tourists for a short period of time. Apart from the hazards mentioned above, this increase can also result in conflicts with staff, guests’ interpersonal issues, and tensions between different groups of people, in particular fans of different teams.

Another unique concern that will affect the 2022 World Cup is Qatar’s decision to maintain its ban on the public consumption of alcohol (H4). According to Rowe (2016), the government’s choice to ban alcohol from the streets and public spaces in Qatar is non-negotiable, and visitors should follow the established rules in order to navigate the country safely. This hazard, while not endangering arriving supporters directly, could result in conflicts and legal action if visitors fail to conform to the law in Qatar.

Here, the threats may be insignificant or small, especially if the visitors restrict their consumption of alcohol to the approved territories. Nonetheless, the risk of alcohol being found in public spaces should be recognised by authorities.

The final major concern that is related to the tournament deals with the multiculturalism and multilingualism of the guests. It is clear that not all visitors will possess a high level of English, and even fewer people will know Arabic. Therefore, all information has to be presented in a variety of languages. Failure to accommodate the needs of all visitors will lead to the final hazard (H5) – arriving supporters not having sufficient access to the necessary knowledge about events, transport, and general travel information.

Those arriving may speak as many as 30 different languages, and their cultural heritage may differ as well. Here, the outcomes of the risk range from an insignificant impact on visitors’ quality of stay to significant issues such as becoming lost or separated from a group. Therefore, the potential danger should be addressed in detail, predicting the consequences and preventing them.

Strategy

The best approaches to the mentioned above risks should consider actions that would prevent risks and not just respond to them. Therefore, preparatory activities have to predict potentially dangerous scenarios and find ways of detecting the signs. First of all, the danger of fires can be lowered through staff education, equipment control and updating, and the development of comprehensive emergency plans (SPFE 2019). All personnel present in places of high visitors’ concentration should undergo training with fire drills and be provided with knowledge about flammable materials, risks, and exacerbating factors.

City officials should also ensure that all volunteers have an adequate understanding of fire escape routes for each building used in the tournament. All premises must have an updated emergency plan and equipment for fire elimination. Risk assessment officials should complete checks regularly to detect any changes. Moreover, cities’ officials should recruit additional squads of firemen to respond to arising issues. The major costs associated with addressing these risks are primarily connected to hiring of additional personnel, training, and equipment checks.

A similar strategy of education, regulation, and recruitment should be considered for healthcare and social problems. Hotel staff should be taught how to deal with conflict escalation and what to do in such emergencies as fire, a natural hazard, outbreak of disease, or violence. Hospitals should organise special units to receive visitors with complaints (Boyle 2015). All food services that might be engaged with the events and public spaces have to go through a quality and hygiene compliance inspection. Visitors should be advised to get vaccinations before arrival; they should also receive information about food-related precautions.

Information about the alcohol ban has to be disseminated prior to the guests’ arrival in the country with the help of social media, online publications, and other popular ways of data dissemination; this will be explained in additional detail later. Before the tournament, additional security should be hired to check event visitors for alcohol possession – this may include checks at stadium entrances. Finally, it is essential to remember that all information should be available to guests in a variety of languages. While it is impossible to train staff to communicate in all languages, officials should make sure that an adequate number of interpreters are hired to be present in emergency departments of stadiums. Major transport signs should have vital information presented in multiple popular languages such as English, Spanish and Chinese.

Delivery Mechanisms

To notify the public about these hazards and reach a wider audience, officials can use multiple channels. In order to inform visitors about fire safety, signs and posters can be hung in halls and entrances to event-related buildings. Press releases should cover data that can help guests to prepare for the tournament. One may also consider the example of a pamphlet issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the previous event, the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. In this pamphlet, the issues of health and personal safety were listed in an easy to understand form. For the tournament in Qatar, the pamphlet can address:

  • High temperatures (advise regular hydration and light fabric for clothes);
  • The alcohol ban (consumption and possession are permitted only in special spaces such as hotels);
  • Infection risks (advise getting vaccinations and medical insurance before arrival);
  • Food safety (advise consuming properly washed and prepared food) (WHO 2018).

It is vital to note that these instructions should be disseminated in advance, one to two months before the events’ start. Furthermore, these guidelines have to be translated into major languages to ensure that every participating country is aware of the rules that will be enforced in the public areas. Also, the interpreters present at major events should be trained to answer questions about the rules and actions available to visitors.

The combination of information being delivered in both written and oral form should create a system of awareness among the public. One should remember that people’s behaviour is a major factor in preventing and mitigating most hazards such as fires and violence (SPFE 2019). Volunteers and security officers can also contribute to the public’s calm behaviour during emergencies and conflicts.

Conclusion

Events such as the 2022 World Cup require the government of the hosting country to consider a wide range of cultural, environmental and political issues of the world and their own state. In the case of Qatar, the usual hazards of popular events are joined by the country’s dry climate and strong alcohol-related rules, which may be unusual for some arriving guests. The changed date – winter instead of summer – is also an outcome of the country’s subtropical location. While during winter months Qatar’s weather is not as hot as it is in July, visitors are still exposed to the significant hazard of fire. At the same time, medical emergencies, such as food contaminations, are also impacted by the climate. The usual drinking behaviour of fans during the tournament is challenged by the upcoming event’s rules as well.

The officials responsible for safety during the 2022 World Cup should address and prevent multiple hazards from occurring as far as possible. These include fires, social conflicts, insufficient transport and living arrangements, language barriers and medical emergencies. In Qatar, the alcohol ban is a unique risk for visitors – the enforcement of specific rules requires additional effort from the authorities and event managers.

The key central strategy of mitigating any of these risks is the education of staff and guests with the help of pamphlets, posters and volunteer support. The language barrier should be eliminated with the assistance of interpreters and multi-language signs. Finally, the major threat of fire has to be prevented with regular equipment checks, increased numbers of fire fighters, and clear emergency plans for each building involved. Overall, the hazards range from insignificant (level 1) to significant (level 4) but their potential largely depends on the preparation of workers and the reaction of visitors.

Recommendations

Item Entity Responsible Date Approximate Cost (Qatari Riyal)
Recruitment of additional fire fighters MOI HR January 2021 – June 2021 15 million
Staff education MOI HR July-October 2022 2 million
Equipment checks Control and Inspection Department Regular
Latest – October 2022
5 million
Translation of signs (including reprinting and installation) January-October 2022 7 million
Recruitment and training of interpreters MOI HR July-October 2022 8 million
Recruitment and training of traffic police officers MOI HR January 2021 – June 2021 18 million
Pamphlets for visitors MOI PR August-September 2022 Online dissemination – from 50.000 to 100.000 depending on the publication
Preparation of hospitals Medical Services Department January 2022 – June 2022

Reference List

Boyle, T 2015, Health and safety: risk management, Routledge, New York, NY.

Brannagan, PM & Giulianotti, R 2014, ‘Qatar, global sport and the 2022 FIFA world cup’, in J Grix (ed), Leveraging legacies from sports mega-events: concepts and cases, Palgrave Pivot, London, pp. 154-165.

Ritter, AC & Tondo, EC 2014, ‘Foodborne illnesses in Brazil: control measures for 2014 FIFA World Cup travellers’, The Journal of Infection in Developing Countries, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 254-257.

Rowe, D 2016, ‘’, Time. Web.

Shoaf, K, De Castro, CGO & Miranda, ES 2014, ‘Hospital preparedness in advance of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil’, Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 409-412.

Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SPFE) 2019, Engineering guide: guide to human behavior in fire, 2nd edn, Springer, New York, NY.

WHO 2018, Health advice for travellers to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in the Russian Federation. Web.

Appendix

Risk Matrix for Discussed Hazards.
Risk Matrix for Discussed Hazards.

Included Hazards:

  • H1 – Fires.
  • H2 – Infectious Diseases.
  • H3 – Insufficient Accommodations.
  • H4 – Alcohol Ban.
  • H5 – Language Barrier.
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