FIFA inspectors had their first look at Qatar's plans for a high-speed rail network, a 50 million passenger airport and a satellite city being built that will be house 200,000 people and scores of hotels as it makes its pitch to host the 2022 World Cup.
The multiple infrastructure projects are part of $42.9 billion in upgrades that the tiny Middle East nation is planning whether or not the country wins the World Cup. Many projects, though, are being sped up to ensure they are ready in time for the tournament are being promoted to show that the nation, which some have derided as too small to host the tournament, will have the necessary transit links and adequate accommodations for the hundreds of thousands of visitors.
FIFA inspectors are in Qatar through Thursday, and on Tuesday they toured a specially designed stadium with a solar-powered cooling system which would be installed in the 12 proposed stadiums. The cooling system is designed to keep temperatures at 27 degrees Celsius (81 degrees F) on the field and in the stands, far cooler than the 41 C (106 F) average in June, July and August. It was forecast to reach 44 C (112 F) on Wednesday, according to the BBC.
Qatar's unique cooling system is designed to continuously pump cool air into the venues, and Qatar bid committee CEO Hassan al-Thawadi has said the technology can be expanded in the coming years to ensure that fan zones and training sites are also kept cool.
Al-Thawadi also promised the system would be carbon neutral because it depends on renewable energy sources.
Inspectors late Tuesday also watched a local football match at a stadium with an older cooling system which is powered by the country's electricity grid. Temperatures at the 16,000-seat, Al Saad stadium got down to as low as 19 C (66 F) during the match, according to organizers.
The inspection team includes six delegates, led by Chile Football Federation president Harold Mayne-Nicholls. Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the organizing committee for the World Cup in South Africa, is also part of the delegation.
Qatar is the final stop on a tour of nine countries which are bidding to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cups. FIFA's 24-member executive committee will choose the winners and they will be announced on Dec. 2.
Inspectors did not comment Wednesday and have said very little since the visit began.