Opening ceremony of the 2022 World Cup: when is it? Who is efficient?

A veteran of multiple Olympic opening and closing ceremonies has been working on a 30-minute show that will take place ahead of Sunday’s World Cup opener.

ROME, Metropolitan City of Rome — Premier world Cup in the Middle-East. The first World Cup kicks off in November. First modern edition based on a single city. First in an Arab country.

Now add “first World Cup with an Olympic-style opening ceremony” to the list of novelties for the tournament in Qatar starting on Sunday.

Creative director Marco Balich, a veteran of several Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, told The Associated Press that he has been working for a year on a 30-minute show that will take place before the opening match between the Qatar and Ecuador.

“The supreme committee wanted to create a real spectacle, which FIFA is not used to,” Balich said in a phone interview from Doha, referring to the local organizing committee in Qatar.

The extravagant ceremony was one of the reasons why in August the start of the World Cup has been brought forward by one day in a late change – to give the show a bigger viewing slot.

“FIFA and the supreme committee – especially FIFA – realized how much effort was put into creating the ceremony and creating for the first time something that was not just someone singing before the opening game” , Balich said.

One of the few details that many fans remember from previous World Cup opening ceremonies was that Diana Ross missed a penalty in 1994 during a song and dance number in Chicago.

Balich promises much more substance to Qatar, saying concerns about the treatment of migrant workers, human rights and the conservative country’s treatment of gays and lesbians will be addressed at the ceremony.

“I can’t spoil the surprise, but there will definitely be attention given and answers to all the questions being debated right now,” Balich said. “It is not about pleasing the West but about being the platform on which Asia and the Western world can comfortably meet. … I think you will have answers to all the criticisms and questions that have been raised.”

Balich, who is Italian, began his Olympic experience at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002 with the flag handover ceremony in Turin.

Unlike the full ceremonies he created for the 2006, 2014, 2016 and 2020 Olympics in Turin, Sochi, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo, respectively, Balich received strict instructions for this event from the ruling emir of the Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

“The message and content of this show was personally curated by the leaders of the country,” said Balich, who works with co-artistic director Akhmed Al Baker. “They want to talk about multiculturalism, embrace diversity and be a platform for peace.”

Sheikh Hamad has been a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for two decades and has attended many Balich ceremonies. So it’s no surprise that the Emir wants an Olympic-style production.

The ceremony – and the tournament in general – is also a hearing for Doha’s desire to host a Summer Olympics.

Doha has expressed interest in competing in the Olympics three times, but has so far been unable to make the shortlist.

Qatari officials were caught off guard last year when the IOC gave Brisbane exclusive bidding rights then awarded the 2032 Games to the Australian city.

The next available Summer Games are 2036.

Doha won the 2030 Asian Games.


Although the ceremony budget does not come close to that of an Olympic opening – mainly due to the difference in length, Olympic ceremonies usually last for hours with the parade of athletes and all kinds of protocols – Balich said that Qatar “was not afraid to invest in artistic quality.

“We have a team of 900 people with the best choreographers and lighting technicians in the world,” added Balich. “I think it’s going to be a big step forward in the history of the World Cup, and the next edition in the United States, Mexico and Canada will inherit the challenge of creating this great spectacle that enriches the experience and the identity of the entire tournament.”


Although Balich is still not allowed to reveal details of the show’s content, he said “famous actors and artists” will be involved.

“But this is not a Super Bowl halftime show,” he added. “It’s a real ceremony with content about Qatar and highlights the fact that this is a tournament of many firsts: the first time it was played in winter; the first time it was performed in an Arab country; and the first time that eight stadiums surround a single city.

Among the performers confirmed at the ceremony is K-pop star Jungkook.

The opening ceremony and match are scheduled for the tent-shaped Al Bayt Stadium, which has a capacity of 60,000.


The ceremony will begin at 5:40 p.m. local time (2:40 p.m. GMT, 9:40 a.m. EST) and end 30 minutes later. Afterwards, the teams of Qatar and Ecuador will go out for the pre-match warm-ups and the opening match will start at 7 p.m.


Balich is also leading a closing ceremony ahead of the World Cup final on December 18 which he says will be “less important in terms of content”.

“It will be more of a celebration of the tournament with the realization that the focus for the final is almost always on the two participating teams,” he added.


Finally, Balich creates a daily water show on the Doha Corniche, the promenade that runs along the city’s bay.

With fountains, drones and fire, Balich said the Corniche display will be three times larger than the Bellagio fountain show in Las Vegas.

AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.

Comments are closed.