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February 9, 2016
Opening ceremony in Doha provides unexpected hope

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdulla Bin greets Osama Abdul Mohsen and his son Zaid (Photo: Sonja Nikcevic)
by Andri Yrkill Valsson, AIPS Young Reporter, Iceland

DOHA, February 8, 2016 - Father and son – a special bond that is hard to describe in any other way than being unique. The atmosphere was also no less than special during the Opening Ceremony Dinner at the Sheraton hotel, when Osama Abdul Mohsen and his son Zaid stepped on stage. Nothing can beat a good surprise.

The two of them caught the headlines all over the world last year when Mohsen, with his seven year old son Zaid in his arms, was tripped by a Hungarian journalist while running from authorities at the Hungarian borders alongside other Syrian refugees. After that, things escalated quickly.

“The war was very hard in my city in Syria,” said Mohsen to AIPS at the Opening Ceremony; surrounded with camera lights. He comes from Deir el-Zour, a town where violence has been ongoing since early 2011. “I thought to myself that I needed to take my family out of the city to keep them safe. We went to Turkey for around two years and then continued to Europe,” said Mohsen.

After the incident in Hungary, the next chapter of their story filled the global community with joy. The world watched on the sidelines as Mohsen was offered a coaching role in the youth academy of Getafe in Spain, and Zaid got to live the dream of little boys all over the world. To meet his idol – Cristiano Ronaldo.

“We visited Real Madrid three days after arriving in Spain and everyone were really good to us. Didn’t matter if it was player or a coach, they told me just to ask if I needed anything. Ronaldo is a very good man. Isco and Pepe were there also, they were all really good to us,” said Mohsen.

The introduction of the two was surely the highlight of the Opening Ceremony. Right before they were introduced, Prime Minister’s Sheikh Abdulla Bin addressed the delegates, speaking of how proud Qatar is to host this kind of event – in a state with reputation of the freedom of press. Although Qatar’s penal code still includes up to five years imprisonment for those who criticize the Emir or vice-Emir of their authorities.

But how Qatar is increasing its value in the sporting community is clear. “Were just here for the event, but I think that the future of sports is here,” said Mohsen to AIPS while Zaid smiled for the camera. Not for the first time that night.

AIPS president Gianni Merlo recalled that it was at this hotel ten years ago where he attended his first AIPS congress as president. His speech harmonized well with what has been discussed at the beginning of the congress; the importance of ethics and the need to defend the credibility of sport.

While the delegates enjoyed their dinner, most eyes were still at the front of the room where Zaid sat with his father with a smile on his face. A symbol of how sport can turn things around for the better.

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