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Other Sports - 22. April 2008.

Former PM's wife provides boost for Doha 2016 bid

CHERIE BLAIR, wife of the former Prime Minister, has spoken today at a special conference designed to help boost Doha's bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

She was a keynote speaker at the third annual International Forum on Sport and Ability to be held at the Shafallah Centre for Children with Special Needs.

The success of the 2006 and 2007 Shafallah International Forums has helped establish the Centre as a world-class facility and furthered Qatar ’s reputation as a global advocate for the rights of children with special needs, officials from Doha's Olympic bid claimed.

Other keynote speakers included Sir Phillip Craven, the President of the International Paralympic Committee and one of Britain's three International Olympic Committee (IOC) members, and Ade Adepitan, one of Britain's leading Paralympians.

Blair, a leading barrister in the field of discrimination and human rights, played an important part in London's successful bid to host the 2012 Olympics and established close relationships with a number of key IOC members.

Blair told the audience: "When it comes to sports, the role it can play in hastening disabled people’s journey towards harmony is crucial.

"For sport establishes common grounds, provides healthy competition opportunity and brings people together.

"In addition, sport challenges racism and sexism.

"The selection of black players such as Pele, Muhammad Ali and others actually helped the society change its preconceived notions,”

Hassan Ali Bin Ali, who is both the chairman of the Shafallah Centre and the chairman of Doha 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Bid Committee, said: “This Forum included discussions and demonstrations of how sport, recreation, and cultural activities promote global unity, social inclusion, acceptance, skill acquisition, and friendships.

"It addresd how sport and the promotion of ability can be expanded to reach all members of the Qatari society.”

“The vision of the Doha 2016 Bid is focused on our shared future – the world’s youth – particularly those disadvantaged either economically or through disability.

"It will engage and inspire them so that Arab youth better understand the wider world and the youth of the rest of the world gain a true picture of Arab culture and hospitality.

"The Forum provided an important arena for discussing sport and ability."

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