Olympics-Dubai opts out of 2020 bid, targets 2024

DUBAI, July 29 Fri Jul 29, 2011 4:36am EDT

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DUBAI, July 29 (Reuters) - Dubai will not enter a bid for the 2020 Olympic Games, instead opting to enter the race to host the event four years later, a statement released by the Gulf Arab emirate's media office said on Friday.

The National Olympic Committee of the United Arab Emirates had been eyeing a 2020 bid but decided a later one may be better timed, although it estimated 70 percent of infrastructure to host the event was in already place or in the planning stages.

"We fully intend to place a bid once I am totally satisfied that we are prepared to host the greatest sporting event in history in a way that would add value to the Olympic Movement itself," Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, a chairman of one of the Olympic planning committees, was quoted as saying in the government statement.

The emirate of Dubai, business hub of the UAE's seven-emirate federation, has aimed to draw various major sporting events to its coastal city, known for luxury hotels and glittering skyscrapers jutting out of a desert landscape.

It has hosted several world championships in sports such as golf, swimming and tennis in recent years.

In his statement on the Olympic bid decision, Sheikh Hamdan alluded to recent youth-driven uprisings that swept much of the Arab world, including neighbouring Oman and Bahrain.

"Our energy needs to go first and foremost to achieving a just and lasting peace for our youth as the bedrock to a future bid which is most likely for the 2024 Olympic Games," he said.

The UAE, the world's third largest oil exporter with a small local population and the eight highest per capita income in the world, has been spared from the regional unrest. (Reporting by Erika Solomon; Editing by John O'Brien)

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