DUBAI (Reuters) – Qatar will only allow people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend next year’s World Cup and is in talks to secure one million doses in case global immunisation efforts lag, the prime minister said.
The Gulf Arab state hosts the four-week tournament in November 2022 and the president of global soccer body FIFA has said the matches would be held in full 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 immunize 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 immunized.
Qatar is inoculating its citizens and residents with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. It has administered at least 2.8 million doses, enough to vaccinate about 50.8% 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 had been completed and work continued on three stadiums including Lusail Stadium, which will host the final match of World Cup 2022 and was now 90% complete.
(Writing by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Robert Birsel)