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Sports

Qatar insists 'no delays' for 2022 World Cup

media Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani as he delivers a televised speech in Doha, Qatar, July 21, 2017. Qatar News Agency/Handout via REUTERS Qatar News Agency/Handout via REUTERS

Qatar's 2022 World Cup preparations have been inconvenienced but not delayed by a political and economic blockade by its neighbours, Doha’s most senior tournament organiser said on Sunday.

Hassan Al-Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, emphasised that other suppliers, outside those countries involved in the ongoing boycott, have been found to do construction work for the tournament.

"The impact has been minimal," Thawadi told Qatar’s state-controlled broadcaster Al-Jazeera English in an interview to be aired later on Sunday.

"In terms of stadium progress or stadium construction and infrastructure requirements for the World Cup, progress is being made as well."

He did note that the crisis has "caused an inconvenience".

Asked outright if projects had been put off, Thawadi replied: "Projects are on schedule. No delays have occurred."

Qatar has been isolated in the Gulf since June 5 when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with the World Cup host -- accusing it of backing extremism and fostering ties with Iran -- triggering the biggest political crisis in the Gulf for several years.

Doha insists that the claims are false. Turkey is its only big ally.

Qatar initially prioritised Gulf suppliers for the huge World Cup construction projects – which are costing the country $500m a week.

Since the start of the Gulf diplomatic crisis, many have questioned whether the gas-rich emirate can succeed in meeting deadlines to build or reconfigure the eight stadiums currently earmarked for 2022.

However, Doha has said that it swiftly replaced Saudi and UAE contractors with Chinese and Malaysian businesses, amongst companies from other countries.

Qatar is soon expected to reveal its latest designs for even more stadiums.

Since it gained the 2022 bid seven years ago, Qatar has been racked by controversy over allegations that it used bribery and corruption to secure the tournament. Further controversy has ensued over alleged abuse of workers building stadiums. Doha denies all of these claims.

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