Watching Hong Kong's 'Heavenly King' Jacky Cheung Hok-yau singing tonight at the opening ceremony will be one very interested observer - Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee. I presume Rogge is not a fan of Canto-pop. The Belgian's interest in Cheung, and a host of other stars, isn't so much because of their warbling, rather it is because he will be keen to see how Doha presents itself to the world tonight. The sights and sounds that Doha imprints on his mind tonight could have a lasting effect when the time comes for the IOC to decide which city will host the 2016 Olympics. While Rogge will not decide which city is picked, his views will be taken into account. And Doha will want to impress the IOC boss. Tiny Qatar, with a population of fewer than 800,000 of which only a quarter are nationals, has made it clear that it wants the five-ring circus to come to town. Small Doha may be, but its people have huge ambitions. And as such, they are hoping these games will serve as proof that even a small city can run a successful multi-sports event. This former British outpost, which was once host to wandering Bedouins and coastal fishermen diving for pearls, hopes to host the world's top athletes in 2016. While an official bid by Doha, Qatar will be made in early 2007 to the IOC, Olympic feelings are already running high. 'The world is beginning to grow weary of seeing the major sporting tournaments being organised by the big countries,' says Saoud ben Abdelrahmane al-Thani, the secretary-general of the Qatar Olympic Committee. 'The rest of the world thought that Qatar, with only 200,000 nationals, could not organise the Asian Games but we have proved them wrong. We believe that the success of such a project is not based on the population of a country but on its ability,' he said. Whether the Asian Games is a success or not, remains to be seen. But tonight, with Rogge watching, the Doha Games will hope to open the show with a spectacular bang. Qatar will be up against stiff competition for the 2016 Summer Games, from the likes of Tokyo, Madrid, New Delhi, Prague, Rio de Janeiro and Rome. The United States may also field a candidate, most likely Chicago or Los Angeles after San Francisco abandoned its bid. The US, which last held the Olympics in 1996 (Atlanta), lost the 2012 race when New York's bid failed. The IOC will vote for the 2016 host city at its congress in Copenhagen in 2009. Up against world-famous cities, Doha is not worried of taking on these Goliaths. The country has made tremendous strides in the sporting world in recent years - and hungrily attracted a host of major events, including the US$2 million Doha Masters golf tournament, the tennis ATP Doha Open, the Superbike World Championship and a round of the IAAF World Athletics Tour. The Asian Games is the biggest challenge yet. 'When we started planning, we knew we had to organise it to a very high standard,' says Ahmed Abdulla al Khulaifi, the spokesman for the organising committee. 'We had to do it to an Olympic standard.' So when Jacky Cheung and the stars come out to sing tonight at the impressive 50,000-capacity Khalifa Stadium - the other luminaries include Bollywood star Sunidhi Chauhan, Lebanese star Magida el Roumi and Spanish tenor Jose Carreras - they will be carrying the hopes and Olympic dreams of Doha. Number of the Day: 8,000 That's how many volunteers and artistes will be performing at the opening ceremony tonight.