In addition to everything else that has gone wrong at or surrounding the World Cup in Qatar, including a migrant worker dying while performing repairs at a resort FIFA was using as a training base for Saudi Arabia during the group stage of the competition, the country has received fewer visitors than it was hoping for during the first two weeks of the tournament.
According to an organizers’ report obtained by Reuters, Qatar was expecting an influx of about 1.2 million visitors during the month-long World Cup but has welcomed just over 765,000 visitors during the first two weeks of the tournament. With only eight teams left and just eight games remaining, it is very unlikely Qatar will be flooded with enough tourists to reach its goal. It may hit its mark for fan spending though, as that is way up.
Special flights, like the one that brought hundreds of Moroccan fans into Qatar ahead of their team’s upset win over Spain, will start to be arranged for fans from the countries that are still alive in the tournament. That may help Qatar get closer to its goal, but it still seems likely the final visitor tally will come up short of expectations. “With over a week of competition still to go, a wave of new visitors has started arriving from the nations that made it to the quarterfinals,” a Qatari official told Reuters.
If Qatar does fall short of its goal for visitors to the World Cup, the nation should probably place the blame on itself for the way it callously handled the deaths of migrant workers building stadiums and other infrastructure throughout the oil-rich nation in advance of the tournament.
Hassan Al-Thawadi, Qatar’s secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said a specific figure for the number of fatalities was still “being discussed” but that he estimated the number of migrant workers who have died on World Cup-related projects was “between 400 and 500” during an interview with Piers Morgan.
“One death is too many, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “[But] every year the health and safety standards on the sites are improving, at least on our sites, the World Cup sites, the ones we are responsible for. Most definitely to the extent that you have trade unions [commending] the work that has been done on World Cup sites and the improvement.”
Per Human Rights Watch, an accurate number of deaths will never be known because “Qatari authorities have failed to investigate the causes of deaths of thousands of migrant workers, many of which are attributed to ‘natural causes.’”