Doha 2024 calls for peace and unity at World Aquatics Championships opening ceremony. WORLD AQUATICS

The World Aquatics Championships - Doha 2024 Opening Ceremony promoted peace and unity through sport as it showcased Qatar's deep connection with water during in an immersive and exciting show at the Aspire Dome.

The first World Aquatics Championships to be held in the Middle East was officially opened in front of a capacity crowd that included IOC members, senior Qatari dignitaries and members of the World Aquatics family. The creative ceremony emphasised that "in water, there are no boundaries" and paid tribute to both Qatar's history and the six aquatic sports that will be showcased in Doha over the 17 days of competition. 

After a stunning performance of the Qatari national anthem by a local children's choir, Qatari artist Azzam Al Mannai, famous for his photographs of Qatar's native whale sharks, emphasised the role of water in connecting the world. The audience's immersive experience was then enhanced as their wristbands lit up the arena. 

As the colours and flags of all the competing nations were projected together by the pool, white flags were waved as a symbol of peace. After the parade, Nada Mohammed Wafa, the first woman to represent Qatar at the Olympic Games when she swam at London 2012, delivered a powerful message as the voice of peace.

Doha is committed to hosting a fantastic World Aquatics Championships. WORLD AQUATICS
Doha is committed to hosting a fantastic World Aquatics Championships. WORLD AQUATICS

Nada said: "We are forever connected by water. However, our connection to water serves as far more than just a reminder of what we have in common. Our connection to water is a constant, forgiving fountain that continues to lift us closer to the core of who we are: teaching us the essence of what we could be."

“If a single drop of water can always be welcomed into the ocean, then every soul can always be welcomed into peace. Mahmoud Darwish says: "Poetry and beauty always create peace. When you read something beautiful, you find coexistence; it breaks down walls. I call upon all of us to become living manifestations of the poetry and beauty needed to create peace. I call on us to break down walls, to live together in peace," she added.

The message of peace was reinforced by the world-renowned dance troupe, Murmuration by Sadeck Berrabah, whose captivating and mesmerising performance ended with the dancers spelling out 'peace' and 'salam'. Throughout the ceremony, the pool was illuminated with stunning projections of Qatar's marine life, its connection to the sea and images of the six aquatic disciplines that will be contested during the championships: swimming, artistic swimming, open water swimming, diving, high diving, and water polo. 

The Doha 2024 Opening Ceremony was breathtaking. WORLD ATHLETICS
The Doha 2024 Opening Ceremony was breathtaking. WORLD ATHLETICS

World Aquatics President Husain Al-Musallam said: "This is a very important moment for our sport. It is the first time that our championships are being held in the Middle East. In recent years, Doha has established itself as one of the best locations in the world for hosting major sporting events and I am fully  delighted that our athletes will have the opportunity to compete in this great city." 

"I wish all the athletes the very best of luck. We are so proud of you. Every year you continue to raise the bar. I know that sports fans around the world will be in awe of your achievements. You are great role models," he continued. 

Doha 2024 Vice Chairman and Qatar Olympic Committee Secretary General Jassim bin Rashid Al Buainain said: "At this historic moment, the world comes together to celebrate aquatics and the chance to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, with more than 2600 athletes from 201 nations and a refugee team competing for top honours while upholding the values of fair play. 

"The State of Qatar considers sport as a top priority as it plays a crucial role in human development, bringing people together, building a better understanding and connection between different cultures and creating a lasting legacy for millions of young people in the region and around the world."