After the World Cup earned Qatar both plaudits and censure, the energy-rich Gulf state is now starting a marathon to secure the 2036 Olympics and a place as a pillar of world sport.

Even as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo scored goals and shed tears in Qatar's multi-billion-dollar stadiums, its sports administrators were booking new victories off the pitch.

During the tournament, Qatar was awarded the 2025 world table tennis championships and the opening race of the world endurance championship in 2024, adding to its packed sports calendar.

Formula One returns in 2023, and a major renovation of Qatar's race track went ahead during the World Cup shutdown.

Qatar also stepped in when China withdrew from holding the 2023 Asian Cup football and is to stage the world swimming championships in 2024.

Its beIn Sports channel with its growing viewership and rights portfolio only adds to Qatar's sports muscle.

Hosting events is "a very powerful game-changing tool", said Michael Payne, a former head of marketing for the International Olympic Committee.

Qatar is ploughing ahead with its sporting ambitions. FIFA president Gianni Infantino repeatedly said Qatar was hosting the "best ever" World Cup, and other federations have also welcomed Qatar's largesse.

An official with the International Table Tennis Federation said "Qatar stepped in to help organise events when Covid devastated the calendar, and its facilities are all in place".

Qatar won an overwhelming majority in the ITTF vote against Spain for the 2025 championships.

'Own goals'

The 2036 Olympics - which will not be awarded before 2025 - is the next big prize. The emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, is an IOC member and Qatar has already bid for the 2016, 2020 and 2032 Games.

The IOC has a declared policy of rotating the Games, and the Olympics have never been held in the Middle East.

But the scorching summer temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) mean the IOC would have to switch the Games to the winter months.

Qatar could face competition from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which has previously bid five times.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia should launch a joint Olympic bid, copying the co-hosting of the next World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada and other big events, Reiche said.

"Co-hosting sporting events with other Middle East countries would add to Qatar's image of being a global citizen," said Danyel Reiche, an associate professor at Georgetown University in Qatar.