On the eve of the 2018 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Doha (QAT), FIG President Morinari Watanabe has praised the Qatari organisers for realising the “dream” of Gymnastics as a sport flowering in the desert.
More than 500 gymnasts from 76 nations will converge on the Aspire Dome for an event where, for the first time, Olympic places are up for grabs along with 42 World Championship medals. It is not the only first as these are the first World Championships to be staged in the Middle East and Mr Watanabe applauded the efforts of the Qatar Gymnastics Federation when he said: “Just now, a big Gymnastics flower has bloomed in the desert of Qatar. The meaning of this flower is courage.”
Until 2018, the hosting of this competition had been limited to Europe, North America, Australia and East Asia, yet Doha is a familiar destination for many of the participants having staged an FIG World Cup each year since 2008, as well as the 2006 Asian Games.
The FIG President added: “I came to Qatar for the first time for the Asian Games in 2006. At that time, Gymnastics was nothing more than flower seeds. In just 12 years since, Qatar has made the de
sert bloom with the flower of the World Championships. A dream is not something we have while we’re sleeping – a dream is something we realise.”
“I offer my thanks to the Qatar Gymnastics Federation for showing their great courage and I hope the gymnasts will respond with some wonderful performances, watering the flowers that the federation has brought into blossom.”
Taking place between 25 October and 3 November, these 48th World Championships will provide the first qualification route for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo (JPN).
The competition at the Aspire Dome will determine the winners of eight sets of medals for men (Team, All-around, Floor Exercise, Pommel Horse, Still Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars, and Horizontal Bar) and six for women (Team, All-around, Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, and Floor Exercise).
The three medal-winning nations in the Team finals for both men and women will earn team berths directly to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo; other nations will have further chances to qualify in 2019 and 2020. The Japanese men and American women are the reigning Olympic champions from Rio and defending world champions from the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow (GBR). The team competition is not held at the world championships in post-Olympic years.
“We are thrilled and honoured to provide the world’s best gymnasts with the eager global media presence, optimal venue conditions and enthusiastic spectator support to make their important first strides towards the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo,” said Ali Al Hitmi, Chief Executive Officer of the Local Organising Committee for the 48th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships and President of the Qatar Gymnastics Federation
. “We are confident that, as the competitors in Doha challenge for world titles and Olympic berths, they will inspire fans and continue to propel the sport upward.”
Olympic All-around champions Simone Biles (USA) and Kohei Uchimura (JPN), who were absent from the All-around finals at the 2017 World Championships in Montreal (CAN), are back this year in Doha and will share the spotlight with new world champions Morgan Hurd (USA) and Xiao Ruoteng (CHN). Biles is tipped to become the first female gymnast to win four World All-around titles, while six-time world champion Uchimura will be competing four events only.
The deep lineup in Doha includes 22 World and Olympic gold medallists from 13 nations. All but one of the Olympic apparatus champions will be in the Qatari capital, and all but three of the reigning world apparatus champions will be back to defend their titles. The roster also includes numerous young gymnasts who have had breakout years so far in 2018 and are favoured for more success in Doha.
Three-time Olympian Svetlana Boguinskaia (BLR), the 1989 World All-around champion, is serving as the 2018 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships Ambassador.