DOHA, Qatar – All the usual bells and whistles were there. Pyrotechnic presentations. The inner deejay is heavy on American pop music. A full-time aggressive social media campaign (#GoGymtastic). The bright colors on the floor of the competition. Oh, and perhaps the best gymnastics at all times at the height of his wonderful powers.
Only one thing seemed missing during the first World Championships of the Middle East: people.
The majority of sessions were held during the 10 day day that ended on Saturday before significant swath of blue and yellow seats in the Aspire Dome. Most of the audience was wearing pink strings with laminated identifying vehicles, clear donations that they did not pay customers but members of one of the dozens of gymnastics federations that came In the wilderness for a sporting event, which is sometimes more like a convention than anything else.
"It's really different," said Simone Biles after leading US women to gold in the final of a team in front of a fully filled and full-awaited area. "It almost felt that it was not world championships there because there were not many people in the crowd and most of the crowd included delegation, but it's so exciting to see. This delegation supports everyone in your country. "
Regularly, there were very few things here, another small, positive step to a country that was preparing to host world track championships and areas in 2019 and the World Cup in 2022.
The buses ran on time and generally did not get a problem in a place where Uber could be found. Save for a handful of short pies – including one that floods to one of the training gyms and another that led to a short power station on the floor during the qualification of women, and the weather also co-operated with & # 39; r temperatures in the mid 80s.
Concerns about how a pre-predicted sporting culture would be accepted in a Conservative Muslim country which is rapidly evaporated. The test was lying next to a huge shopping center, where many of the gymnastics spent their time walking around in briefs and T-shirts alongside Qataris in traditional cultural costumes.
And yet four years of detailed preparations by the local organizing committee did not do much to stimulate an extensive sporting interest that is still trying to provoke a region in the region.
Minutes before the finals of the women's team Tuesday, Americans Anne Josephson, Nicole Caggiano and Tina Ferriola – all of them in the United States gymnasium – and Matt Goldsmith walks along a rare hallway before what is usually the biggest night of each world championships They demand how many good seats are available, gymnastics equivalent to Golden State Warriors win the NBA title in front of friends and family, and very few.
"There are more people in my gym on Wednesday morning taking Mommy and Meat classes than it's now and it's very sad," said Josephson, who runs Jag Gym at Culver City, California.
Josephson read the US State Department's report on Qatar before you bought tickets and stopped worrying about security, but noted that she chose to wear black pants despite the heat because she wanted to "follow the rules."
Although they anticipated an environment that was not as fierce as what they were experiencing in the years 2017 last year – when thousands of Canadians came to the Olympic Stadium – they were hit by the lack of litter inside & # 39; The arena, with an ability of around 2,500 for the event.
"What experience we are about to get, one of us 60 with us," said Ferriola. "Now we all love good friends because this is a very personal experience."
The organizers did what they could engage with younger Qataris, holding demonstrations in the pre-meeting stage and using multiple social media platforms to give an insight into the athletes. They gave tickets to local schools and on men's final day, 50 per cent offered to adults and allowed children under 10 to enter for free. And still the stalls are not close to full.
Save for a few store store banners close to the huge Aspire Zone – the rubbish complex in the western suburbs that served as the 2006 Asian Games host – and the bus at random, Biles was very little tested. track history. Meanwhile, signs promoting professional squash squash lampposts that ran down Al Corniche Street median in front of the city center signature.
"We are still building a sports culture in our region, this can not be done overnight," Ali Al-Hitmi, the CEO of local organizers, wrote an email to The Associated Press. "We've seen that the crowd numbers grow everyday over the 10-day event. The atmosphere itself has swept across our country and words and mouth have seen a number of ticket purchases on the door in Aspire Dome. "
He praised the Qatar International Gymnastics Federation for his effort and said that he had received "no major complaints" from the delegations, although the federation expressed concern about the defective numbers – especially early – and blamed the competition schedule and designed to appeal television rights holders around the world.
The team started, all rounds and events round at 4 p.m. local time, hurricane hour height in a city of over a million people. Many families come home for a nighttime prayer immediately after work or school, making it difficult to meet two hours. Attendance was held during the final of the event, which took place on Friday and Saturday, the weekend in Qatar.
American Morgan Hurd felt too much energy when competing in the floor's final floor exercise on Saturday but also allowed her to get a boost because Biles could hear shouting her support, something that is usually difficult to choose when music goes over and the stalls are full.
World championships lead to Stuttgart, Germany, next October, and ticket sales are fast. Meanwhile, Qatar will be moving forward in the preparations for a track visit with the Khalifa International Stadium, across the street of Aspire Dome.
Organizers are not concerned about the slightly illegal response to gymnastics that have a negative impact on drawing supporters – especially Westerners – to a country that hopes to use sport to help expand its global footprint .
"There is no doubt that the venue will be full," Sheikh Asma Al Thani, a marketing and communications director for the 2019 world track championships wrote in an email. "We work with a lot of different stakeholders to ensure that we can give as many international and local fans to the championship, offering them a cultural and sporting experience as anyone else."
Perhaps, but the country that promises "Deliver Amazing" when the World Cup reaches four years can break its work to achieve something else.
Lots of people to watch.