The World Cup is set to mark a new era of accessibility in Qatar, which fans with disability needs are hoping will catch on in future mega sporting events worldwide. To ensure that nobody is deprived of enjoying the tournament, there are specific tickets that entail inclusive facilities, special match-day services, and more for those with disabilities.
It takes more than merely assigning accessible seats at a venue to deliver an accessible event. In the case of the World Cup, the responsibility starts from the moment one begins making their way to the stadium. Meeting the needs of all people, regardless of their (dis/in)ability, and removing as many barriers as possible are critical to improving access to physical, digital, and informational spaces.
For a nation where accessibility hasn’t previously been prioritized, hosting such a mega-tournament means new infrastructure needs to be implemented to allow full accessibility. Because of this, Qatar has undergone significant modifications in the last decade to deliver on its pledge. This includes building state-of-the-art and fully accessible venues, training teams on accessibility assistance, and ensuring roads are fully built to meet all the visitors’ specific needs. Such initiatives have made changes to the lives of the disabled community in Qatar, such as the easier use of Qatar’s new public transportation system.
“We have prioritized the major [reviews], mainly to ensure that the fan journey to the stadium is a comfortable one and ensure that people with accessibility needs are supported, whether it be through providing them with the preferred path for people with specific ability needs or audiovisual, spectrum, or physical needs,” said Ahmed Habib, the senior media content specialist for the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy. “We also have created a fan engagement plan for our activations along The Last Mile [the route people take from transport hubs to the stadium] to ensure that all the activations are accessible and that they are inclusive in their nature and support everyone in having a really enjoyable fan experience.”