Qatar World Cup organizers on Wednesday warned fans to brace for “congestion” in the first two weeks of the tournament when the peak number of supporters will be packing the Gulf state’s capital.
Private cars will be banned from many streets and residents near some stadiums will need permits to get to their homes, organizers and government officials told a press conference as they outlined measures to avoid a World Cup jam.
The tiny state of 2.9 million people will be the smallest to hold the World Cup that starts November 20.
Qatar has spent billions of dollars on a state-of-the-art driverless metro rail network that serves five of the eight stadiums and will also have 3,200 extra buses and 3,000 taxis on the road.
More than one million fans are expected to visit during the 29 days. But there will be four group matches a day during the first two weeks of the tournament and officials are predicting more than 300,000 fans could be milling around the streets of Doha at the same time during the most intense days.
Organizers are pressing local residents to take “private transportation,” including their own cars, if they go to matches.
They are “encouraged to drive where possible” and leave trains and buses to the million-plus foreign fans expected to visit during the tournament, said an organizing committee statement.
“We expect congestion,” said Abdulaziz al-Mawlawi, mobility director for the Qatar organizing committee.
“Having four matches in one day is a challenge in a region or city like Doha,” declared Mawlawi, who added that there were “solutions” to get to stadiums and for daily life.
Mawlawi said organizers wanted to “warn fans to abide by restrictions,” leave early to reach World Cup matches on time and avoid having one person in a car.
“These things will reduce the expected congestion. Whether in Qatar or any country in the world, congestion is expected in a tournament such as the World Cup.”
Most private cars will be banned from around central Doha for the tournament with a $140 fine for offenders. Residents around four of the eight stadiums will need a permit to be able to drive to and from their homes.