IAAF President Lamine Diack with the Emir's representative, Jassim Bin Thamer Al Thani, a Vice President of the Qatari Olympic Committee (© Qassim Rahmmtullah)
The Emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani has been awarded the IAAF Golden Order of Merit.
The Order was presented to the Emir's representative, Jassim Bin Thamer Al Thani, a Vice President of the Qatari Olympic Committee, by IAAF President Lamine Diack during a ceremony at the impressive QOC HQ in Doha, in the presence of members of the IAAF Council.
The Golden Order of Merit is the highest honour awarded by the IAAF and is normally awarded to heads of state and other dignitaries who have made a major contribution to the advancement of the sport of athletics.
The Emir of Qatar is a great fan of athletics and his whole-hearted support for the sport ensured that Doha was the venue of the 2000 edition of IAAF Grand Prix Final, and also of an annual international Meeting which is now recognized as an IAAF Super Grand Prix Meeting (next edition on 13 May).
"It gives me great pleasure to make this award to the Emir, not only for his tremendous contribution to the sport in Qatar, but Asia as a whole," said President Diack. "It was a real pleasure to see more than 320 kids, both girls and boys, taking part in an IAAF Kids In Athletics Activity yesterday here in Doha. I believe that there is a tremendous potential for our sport amongst this country's youngsters," said Diack.
Qatar will be host of the next edition of the Asian Games in 2006.