Qatar Unveils One Of The World's Largest Sports Museums

3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum in Doha showcases an amazing variety of sports memorabilia

3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum

Stopping in front of a cricket bat, the guide murmured that this belongs to Sachin Tendulkar. And we, a bunch of visiting Indian journalists, nodded gladly. We were at the newly opened 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum in Doha, walking past a collection of people-centric memorabilia, which included a pair of gloves that boxing legend late Muhammed Ali wore at the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics (when he was still known as Cassius Clay) where he won a gold medal, a shirt of football legend Pele, a Ferrari driven by former racing-car driver Michael Schumacher, and more. 

Located within the Aspire Zone (popularly called Doha Sports City), the museum hugs the Khalifa International Stadium, one of the eight stadiums designated for the 2022 FIFA Football World Cup tournament being hosted by Qatar. The main building is fronted by a cylindrical glass-skinned spiral which represents the Olympics’ symbolic five interlinked rings. The museum has been designed by Spanish architect Joan Sibina. The numeric part is inspired by the countdown at sports events. Spread over 19,000 square metres, the sports museum focuses on giving visitors an immersive experience through a variety of exhibits, including photographs and rare rule books, interactive displays, and memorabilia. 

We took the elevator to the seventh floor to start our tour of the museum. First was the gallery titled ‘World of Emotions’ providing an overview of the thematic displays as well as that of the history of sports in Qatar. The gallery titled ‘A Global History of Sport’ came next where the evolution of games from the ancient to modern times across Europe, Asia and Oceania, the Americas, and Africa, were well documented. A corner focused on the evolution of sports in the Arab world.

The main focus of the museum is to inspire the younger generation to take up sports. The media quoted museum director Abdulla Yousuf Al Mulla as saying that the museum has been envisioned ‘as a testament to Qatar’s enormous appetite and enthusiasm for sport and its national ambition for the nation to become more physically active’.

A large gallery is dedicated to ‘The Olympics’, and includes, among other things, torches from every Summer and Winter Olympic Games starting from 1936, Olympic pins, flags, etc. Our tour of the gallery became more interesting when Qatar Tourism guide, Pia Sundstedt, regaled us with anecdotes from her participation in the Olympics. She had represented her home country Finland twice in cycling. You may watch a documentary film on the restart of the games and various milestones from the modern era. The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum is part of the international Olympic Museums Network.

The ‘Hall of Athletes’ showcases around 90 international sportspersons, each a legend in their own domain. Indian boxer Mary Kom was featured here. There were galleries showcasing the many aspects of ‘Qatar: Hosting Nation’ as well as about ‘Qatar Sports’. A tour of the galleries ended with a visit to the 'Activation Zone', where you may indulge a round of games at the many interactive challenges. 

If all that sports has made you hungry, drop by the 3-2-1 Café to sample a variety of healthy snacks curated by Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens, who has also curated the menu of the fine dining restaurant ‘Naua’ on the eighth floor. There is also a library and an auditorium. You may conclude your visit with some sports-inspired merchandise from the gift shop on the fifth floor. 

Information: The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum is located on Al Waab Street in the Aspire Park. Tickets are available at the reception on the ground floor.  At the moment, there is no entry fee. The museum is open between 9am and 7pm from Saturday to Thursday and between 1.30pm and 7pm on Fridays. However, timings may differ during Ramzan and other religious holidays. For timings and other details, call 974-4452-5555.