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Qatar Dismisses Architect Concern on World Cup Air-Conditioning

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Organizers of soccer’s 2022 World Cup in Qatar said they have no intention of scrapping plans to air-cool stadiums after one of their contractors suggested it was too expensive and “notoriously unsustainable.”

Qatar last year was the surprise choice to host the four-yearly event after a report compiled by FIFA, the sport’s governing body, deemed it the only “high risk” candidate among five bidders. It beat the U.S. in the final round of voting.

“All our commitments that have been made to FIFA that are in the bid book are still going ahead as planned,” Nasser Al Khater, the 2022 World Cup’s communications director, said in a telephone interview. “There’s no plan of scrapping cooling technology whatsoever.”

John Barrow, a senior principal with Populous Ltd., a U.K.- based architect responsible for London’s Olympic Stadium and Soccer City that hosted the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa, said today his company is trying to persuade Qatar not to follow through with a program of cooling its venues.

“The organizers want to have the big showcase stadium with air conditioning but we are fighting hard to persuade them that you don’t need to have it,” the Associated Press cited Barrow as saying at the International Football Arena conference in Zurich. “It’s not good from a long term sustainability point of view.”

Populous is designing the 47,500-seat Sports City in Doha, one of 12 stadiums Qatar has proposed to host the 32-nation tournament.

The event is played in June and July, two of the hottest months of the year in Qatar. Its bid team met questions about how athletes could be expected to play in conditions where the temperature rarely falls below 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by promising to use solar-panel powered cooled air at each venue. The technology was shown to FIFA’s inspectors at a miniature prototype stadium, designed by Populous, before the vote.

“We are doing away with all the air-conditioning kit that is going to cost a fortune to run,” said Barrow.

Instead, he suggested a system where air can be moved around the stadium using natural ventilation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in London at tpanja@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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