Qatar relaxed limits Thursday on international visitors arriving during the World Cup and will allow entry for fans without tickets from Dec. 2 when the group stage ends.
Fans will still need to apply for and get a Hayya Card tournament identification document before traveling but a match ticket will no longer be mandatory to enter, Qatari World Cup organizers said.
About 1.2 million international visitors are expected to come to the tiny emirate during the month-long tournament with ticket sales approaching 3 million for the 64 games.
The maximum demand on Qatar’s limited stock of accommodation — including hotels, apartments, hired cruise ships and campsites — is when all 32 teams are competing in the group stage that starts Nov. 20.
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Fans are being encouraged to stay in neighboring states and take flights to Doha for games.
The pressure should ease when just 16 nations will advance to the knockout rounds that start Dec. 3. The final is on Dec. 18, which is Qatar’s national day.
Qatar is the smallest World Cup host nation by size since Switzerland in 1954. All eight stadiums built in and around the city of Doha can be reached by metro trains and buses.