World Cup host Qatar will only allow people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to attend next year’s football festival and is in talks to secure one million doses in case global immunisation efforts lag.
The Gulf Arab state hosts the four-week tournament in November 2022 and the president of global soccer body Fifa has said the matches will be held in capacity stadiums.
Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani told newspapers that while most countries were expected to have vaccinated their citizens by then, Qatar was still taking measures to ensure a successful event.
“We are currently negotiating with a company to provide one million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in order to immunise and vaccinate some of those coming to Qatar,” he said in remarks also carried by state news agency QNA late on Sunday, without identifying the firm.
It was not immediately clear how those vaccines would be offered. Most coronavirus vaccines require two doses administered weeks apart.
Qatari officials had earlier said they hoped to hold a coronavirus-free tournament and planned to make vaccinations available to attendees not already immunised.
Qatar is inoculating its citizens and residents with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. It has administered nearly three million doses, enough to vaccinate just over half of its population, according to a Reuters Covid-19 tracker.
Sheikh Khalid said the 2021 Arab Cup, which Doha is hosting in December, would reflect Qatar’s preparedness to host major tournaments.
He said a large number of stadiums have been completed and work continues on three stadiums including Lusail Stadium, which will host the final match of World Cup 2022 and is now 90% complete.
A number of groups are still expressing concern over the suitability of Qatar to host the event with regard to human rights, particularly worker conditions in stadium construction, and the rights of fans in the LGBT community because of the illegality of homosexuality in Qatar.
Authorities have said the Muslim state will also permit fans to consume alcohol during the event, however drinking in public is not permitted as Qatar’s legal system is based on shariah.