A Greek behind the world celebration of water sports in Doha

A Greek behind the world celebration of water sports in Doha

Greek swimming champion and active member of the national team in his youth, the pool has always been a compass in his life and still defines him today. The reason for this is Petros Tsiallas, who, despite the fact that the years have passed, has not given up his great love. He was in charge of swimming at the 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games and afterwards, he made Qatar… his second home.

Petros Tsiallas is the man who is essentially leading the organizing committee of the 21st World Championships in Doha. “Technically my position is an advisor to the Organising Committee, but I do a lot of other things. And it’s not just planning, I also run the implementation, all the services of the games, etc.,” he says on the IOC website. “At the 2004 Athens Olympics in 2004 I was the swimming coordinator. When the Paralympics were over, I accepted an offer to work at the Asian Games. Then I was offered to join the country’s Olympic Committee. And since then, for 20 years now, I have been living in Doha.”

The city has been hosting in recent weeks, not only the big pool meet, but also the Asian Football Cup and a top golf tournament, while the tennis tournament, with the participation of Maria Sakkari, is also starting. “Doha is hosting the World Championships in wet athletics for the first time, but it has also hosted extremely important events in the pool. We started in 2009 with diving, we have held the swimming world cup from 2012 to 2021, and the open water from 2018-2021. In general, in the Middle East, there has never been such a major event before,” says Peter Tsiallas.

Presenting details of the giant event, he explains: “A total of 2,400 people are working on the 21st World Championships in wet athletics. We have 600 paid staff, we have 1,200 volunteers and the rest are in partner services, contractors, etc. There are also 10-12 Greeks still in key positions. We have created a wet track and field centre within an existing sports facility, in the “Aspire Zone”, a multi-purpose venue with 10 playing fields: indoor football pitch, indoor for athletics, volleyball, basketball, fencing, 50m swimming pool, diving centre. In total it is 80,000 sq.m. So we came and put 4 pools, for example where the football field is normally where the soccer field is, we built the pool for artistic swimming and then for swimming. And when the World Cup is over, it will be a football field again, besides everything we did is pre-fabricated. They come in and go out, we do the fights and they leave. We have 4 months from expiration to return the facility to the way it was, the way it probably is. In the indoor track and field facility that’s in the center of it, we put in the pools for water polo. We used existing facilities for economy and to take advantage of the heritage that we have from previous events that we’ve done, we used existing facilities, modified them to have the lowest possible cost. The diving facility, the “Hamad Aquatic Center” is an existing facility that we have been doing all our wet athletics events so far. It was the site of the 25 pool world championships last year, all the world cups, etc. At the Old Doha Port, we did the facility for open water and high diving, all prefabricated, the event is finished and ‘gone’.”

In closing, Petros Tsiallas makes it clear that he has no regrets about his decision to leave Greece and underlines: “At the beginning it was a bit difficult because it was a very different country from Greece, now it has evolved a lot. There is no connection between then and now. After the World Cup, Qatar has completely transformed itself. It was a huge impact of the event. Now I live in a city that has nothing to envy, it barely offers you more than many other cities in the world.”