After a year of ballooning costs, delays and controversy over its labour practices, Qatar is cutting back. According to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek, organisers have decided to drastically scale back plans to construct a dozen new stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.
Though no official reason was given for cutting four stadiums from the country’s plans, an analyst told Businessweek that the decision was “motivated by cost-cutting following an assessment of the real needs on the ground.” Qatar is planning to spend at least $200 billion building infrastructure and buildings for the World Cup. That includes gigantic air-conditioning systems planned for some venues, because summer temperatures in Qatar can hover around 50C.
The subtext to all this? The growing outrage from human rights groups (and the general public) over the hair-raising conditions of the construction workers building these stadiums. Just two months ago, the International Trade Union Confederation estimated that 4000 workers would die during construction, while Amnesty International had its own grim report just a few months before.
Cutting back the massive amount of work to be done by 2022 is definitely a start. But it’s no guarantee that workers will be treated any better — only time will tell if their conditions improve, and that will partially depend on whether the controversy continues to be a thorn in the side of organisers. [Businessweek]
Picture: Sean Gallup/AP