Controversial football World Cup host Qatar will complete work on the first venue for tournament matches by 2016, six years before the event takes place, officials announced on Tuesday.
The 40,000-seater Khalifa International Stadium is scheduled to host group stage, round of 16 and quarter-final matches during the 2022 World Cup.
It is also the venue for the 2019 World Athletics Championships, the first time that the games will be held in the Middle East.
“We are very happy with the rapid progress of renovation works at the site,” said project manager Mansoor Saleh Al-Muhannadi.
“We expect the stadium to be handed over by the main contractor at the end of 2016.”
Work has progressed at the stadium despite suggestions earlier in the year that Qatar may lose its right to host the World Cup following the fallout from corruption allegations surrounding FIFA and the launch of an ongoing Swiss investigation examining in part how the tiny Gulf state was awarded the tournament.
The Khalifa stadium, located in the west of the Qatari capital Doha, was originally built in 1976 as a 20,000-seater stadium but is undergoing major renovation for 2022.
Qatar’s worker safety record has become a controversial issue since the award of football’s biggest tournament, but World Cup organisers on Tuesday said some 3,330 construction workers have worked over three million man-hours at Khalifa “without a recordable accident”.
Officials said the stadium once completed will include cooling technology on “the field of play, all seats and concourses”.
Khalifa is one of up to 12 stadiums which will be used during the World Cup in 2022, which for the first time in its history will be played during the months of November and December.
A final decision on the number of 2022 venues will be made by the end of this year.