A capacity crowd in the Lusail Multipurpose Hall saw the curtain fall on the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship on Sunday, as Qatar dazzled the world once more with an incredible sporting spectacle.
In all, 24 national teams, hundreds of players, and thousands of fans have come together for the Championship, which has raised the bar for major sporting events in the region and made a significant contribution to development of the sport of handball. Over the past 17 days, visitors have been surprised and delighted by a host of special guests and exciting events – and the closing ceremony lived up to these high expectations.
As well as marking the end of Qatar 2015, the closing event functioned as a symbolic handover to France, which will host the next Men’s World Handball Championship in 2017.
The ceremony began with a moving rendition of the national anthem of Qatar performed by children of the Siwar Choir and was followed by a range of traditional performances that showcased Qatari culture.
The championship’s beloved mascot Fahed waved to the crowds, and was joined by a group of French children for the Official Song of the Championship, “Live it”, which has now been seen more than six million times on YouTube.
During the ceremony, Dr. Hassan Moustafa, President of the International Handball Federation (IHF) delivered a speech thanking the Qatar 2015 Organising Committee for the hugely successful event and thanked visiting teams and delegations for their participation in the championship.
In the exciting final, France beat Qatar with the winning score of 25-22 to claim the trophy of the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship. Poland came in third place after defeating Spain, with a match score of 29-28.
At the awards ceremony, H.H. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, The Emir of the State of Qatar and Dr. Hassan Moustafa, President, International Handball Federation presented the new world champions France with their gold medals. Dr. Hassan Moustafa also presented the team with the newly unveiled championship trophy that has been designed and conceptualised in Qatar.
The replacement of the trophy is a championship first and has been presented by the State of Qatar to the IHF as a new trophy for all future tournaments. The old trophy will be kept at a museum at the IHF Headquarters.
Second place winner, Qatar was awarded silver medals and bouquets by H.E. Sheikh Ahmed Al Fahad Al Sabah, President, Olympic Council of Asia and Miguel Roca Mas, 1st Vice President, International Handball Federation.
H.E. Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, President of the Qatar 2015 Organising Committee and Frantisek Taborsky, Executive Committee Member, International Handball Federation presented the third place and Bronze Medals to Poland.
Following the awards ceremony, in a symbolic handover to France, H.E. Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, President of the Qatar 2015 Organising Committee handed the IHF flag to Dr. Hassan Moustafa marking the end of the championship.
The President of the IHF in turn handed the flag over to Joel Delplanque, President of the French Handball Federation as they prepare to host the next edition of the tournament in 2017. The France 2017 Committee has toured the Qatar 2015 venues this week and publically congratulated Qatar for the high level of professionalism and incredible range of facilities at the championship.
The closing ceremony finished with performances by international music artists Kylie Minogue, Taio Cruz and Mani Hoffman. Spectators were also treated to an incredible firework display, as Lusail Multipurpose Hall was illuminated for the night.
After the closing event, coaches, fans and international sporting representatives had warm words for the success of Qatar.
Claude Onesta, Coach of the French national team, said: “This is a tournament organised to the highest level imaginable. We didn’t come across any problems. We had top teams from all around the world and it was very stimulating.”
Speaking about the spectator support at the championship, Hadi Hamdoon, Right Back on the Qatari national team, said: “I have never played in front of so many enthusiastic supporters in my life before. It was awesome, a unique experience for me.”
The 24th Men’s Handball World Championship has created several sporting firsts for Qatar and has demonstrated the capability of the nation to host major international events. The Qatar 2015 Organising Committee has partnered with some of the country’s leading companies that have leveraged their expertise towards the success of the event and the collaborative efforts between partners, committee members, workforce and volunteers has established Qatar as major global sports-hub.