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How Qatar keeps its World Cup stadiums cool enough for everyone


Of course, says Ghani.

In 2010, Qatar won the right to host that year’s tournament, for reasons more related to corruption than thermal dynamics.

In 2015, recognizing that scorching temperatures inside and outside stadiums could be both miserable and dangerous, FIFA moved the competition from its traditional summer dates to late autumn. The change may have made Ghani’s mission easier, with daytime temperatures in the 80s and 90s instead of 110s or higher, but he insisted it didn’t matter.

These eight stadiums of different sizes and designs were not reserved for the World Cup. One will be dismantled, but seven will be used, all year round: for major events, for club teams, for university athletics, perhaps even as part of an Olympic bid. (Such promises for everyday uses may not be fulfilled, as evidenced by ghost sites from past Games.)

In Qatar, the heat for nine months of the year is almost unbearable, Ghani said. And it’s not going to get better.

“Is it smart from a sustainability perspective to have eight stadiums that you can only use for three months a year?” He asked. “Of course not. So you need air conditioning to make them viable in the long run.

There are of course costs, both financial and environmental, and Ghanaian and Qatari officials will not disclose them. According to some estimates, the eight stadiums would cost a total of $6.5 billion, a price that does not include the human cost in lost lives and the chronic health problems of the low-paid migrant workers who built them.

Oil and natural gas have made Qatar rich over the past half-century, and the World Cup is part of a spending spree. Skyscrapers, shopping malls, luxury hotels and apartment buildings, a new airport and a subway system – all air-conditioned, of course – have sprung up, like Oz, improbably at this place.

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