By Duncan Mackay

Dubai_general_shotJuly 29 - The race to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics continued to take shape today with Dubai ruling themselves out and instead declaring themselves as early bidders for 2024.

The decision, which had been expected, was formally confirmed in an Emirati Government statement. 

"The National Olympic Committee of the United Arab Emirates today confirmed that it will not enter a bid for the 2020 Olympic Games," it said.

Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, whose wife Princess Haya is President of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) and member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), had set-up a·company in 2009 to investigate whether they should bid.

Falcon &·Associates had been headed by the former IOC communications director Giselle·Davies.

A feasibility study conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers and Populous was carried out to established whether Dubai would be well placed to enter a bid for the 2020 Olympic Games or whether it should wait for 2024.

"Whilst a feasibility study into Dubai's capability for hosting the Olympic Games concluded that as much of 70 per cent of the 'hard' infrastructure was already in place or planned, it was decided a bid would be better timed for 2024," said the Government statement.

But Sheikh Mohammad promised that they remained committed to a bid.

He allued, however, to recent youth-driven uprisings that have swept much of the Arab world as one of the reasons behind deciding to postpone a bid.

These affected include neighbouring Oman and Bahrain, although Dubai has so far remained unaffected.

"Hosting the Olympic Games in the Middle East would be a dream come true for the entire region, and we fully intend to place a bid once I am totally satisfied that we are prepared to host the greatest sporting event in history in a way that would add value to the Olympic Movement itself, as well as the youth of the Arab World," he said.

"Whilst I am satisfied that infrastructure and Dubai's experience in hosting top class sports events would see us well placed to win a bid, I do believe that much more has to be done in order to leave the lasting human legacy that celebrates the Olympic values.

"I believe that a concentrated effort must now be made on grass roots sports activities, building our human resources and administrative framework.

"The Arab region is known for its hospitality and I do not believe that our region is placing sports as a priority in these turbulent times.

"Peace is one of the main ambitions of the Olympic Movement and has been since the Olympic truce of 776 BC.

"Our energy needs to go first and foremost to achieving a just and lasting peace for our youth as the bedrock to a future bid which is most likely for the 2024 Olympic Game."

Istnabul, Madrid, Rome and Tokyo have so far announced bids while there may be bids from Doha and Durban before the IOC deadline is reached on September 1.

The IOC is due to choose the host city at its Session in Buenos Aires on September 7, 2013.

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