Doha. A top Qatari official involved in organizing the World Cup has for the first time put the death toll of workers linked to the tournament at ‘between 400 and 500’, much higher than any number previously reported by Doha. Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general of Qatar’s apex committee on ‘delivery and legacy’, told British journalist Piers Morgan in an interview with this figure. This is expected to further intensify criticism by human rights groups.
Human rights groups have been criticizing Qatar for the death toll of migrant workers during the construction of more than $200 billion worth of stadiums, metro lines and new infrastructure needed for the tournament to host West Asia’s first World Cup. The apex committee and the government of Qatar did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. Morgan has posted an excerpt of the interview online in which he asks Hasan, “What is an honest, realistic figure on the death toll of migrant workers as a result of doing World Cup-related work?” Hasan said the estimate is around 400. Between 400 and 500. I don’t have exact numbers. But this figure had not been publicly discussed before.
The apex committee’s report for the period from 2014 to the end of 2021 only includes the number of deaths of workers involved in the construction and renovation of stadiums hosting the World Cup. The figures released put the total number of deaths at 40. Of these, 37 deaths were described by Qatar as incidents outside of work, such as heart attacks. Three deaths are linked to workplace incidents. One report separately listed the death of an employee from the coronavirus amid the pandemic.