✦ With a New Year comes a whole new calendar of sporting events for us to get stuck into, both domestically and internationally.
Last year showcased some heavyweight events that, unfortunately, transpired to become occasions that were ultimately overshadowed by controversy, with the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the Beijing Winter Olympics hogging most of the negative press. However, the Australian Open tennis tournament, returning after a COVID-induced hiatus, also hit the headlines for the wrong reasons after men’s World Number One Novak Djokovic was denied opportunity by the Australian government to defend his title after he refused to comply with the mandatory vaccine requirements and was subsequently deported.
However, this year Novak is back and ready to make up for lost time. This year’s centrepiece takes place at Melbourne Park from January 16 to 29 and will see Djokovic wrestling with old rival and current champion Rafael Nadal for what would be the Serb’s 22nd Grand Slam title. Nadal himself, of course, will have his eyes firmly on retaining his title and expect the likes countryman Carlos Alcaraz, who won the US Open last year, and emerging Norwegian star Casper Ruud to feature heavily. Also, don’t be surprised if Daniil Medvedev has an extra point to prove after he and many other Russian athletes were barred from numerous competitions last year following Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.
In the women’s side of the draw there will definitely be a new champion after last year’s winner Ashleigh Barty retired not long after winning her home tournament. The hot favourite to setp into the void left by Barty is Poland’s Iga Swiatek who made last year’s semi-final in Melbourne and also won both the French and US Opens.
Later in the year we have the French Open at Roland Garros bteween May 28 – June 11, Wimbledon from July 3-16 and the US Open at Flushing Meadows from August 28 until September 10 so, as usual, there is plenty for tennis aficionados to look forward to.
Fans of cricket are in for a treat this year as several key events take place. First we have the women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa from February 10-26. Australia are the defending champions and, with five prior titles under their belt, remain overwhelming favourites.
The Ashes is the pinnacle of the Test game and this year Australia will be looking to retain the urn as they take on bitter old rivals England. The five-test series at Edgbaston, Lord’s, Headingley, Old Trafford and the Oval will be contested across an incredibly compressed timeframe of just 46 days between June 16 and July 31 in order to accommodate the hugely popular Hundred tournament once again in August. Regardless, Ben Stokes’ England will be looking to add to their current World Cup and T20 crowns by getting one over Pat Cummins and the Aussies.
Similarly the English women’s team will be looking to get one over on their Aussie counterparts and regain the Ashes when the two sides lock horns in three T20s, three One Day Internationals and a five-day Test at Trent Bridge, the first time the latter version has been contested in a women’s Ashes match since 1992.
Then the 23th edition of the men’s World Cup will be held in India in October and November, with exact dates still yet to be confirmed. The 50-over format was originally scheduled to be played in February and March 2023 but in July 2020 a decision to postpone the tournament was made following the disruption of the qualification schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Rugby Union we have the 2023 World Cup to look forward to. Taking place at nine venues across France from September 8 until October 28, with the final at the Stade de France in Paris, a total of 20 nations will be competing. South Africa are the defending champions after they defeated England in the 2019 final in Japan, one of the last last major international sports events to take place before COVID-19 kicked and forced widespread cancellations and postponements. While the Springboks will be looking to defend their title, the experts are looking more towards the likes of France, England and even Ireland as potential champions.
Reverting to the round ball game, this year sees the ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup as Australia and New Zealand co-host the tournament between July 20 to August 20. Consistent with the ongoing expansion and popularity of the women’s game globally, this tournament will see an increased 32 nations participating, in line with their male counterparts. European Champions England will be confident of going all the way to the final at Stadium Australia in Sydney although defending champions the United States still remain most people’s favourites.
July also sees the 16th edition of the Netball World Cup, which will take place in South Africa for the very first time from July 28 until August 6. A total of 16 teams will be competing, with the Australian Diamonds odds-on favourite to win the tournament outright although arch-rivals New Zealand, who defeated Australia by one goal in the 2019 final, will be looking to upset the party once again.
In the golfing world there is plenty to look forward to as the four major annual events play out once again. The Masters will take place as usual during the first week of April (6-9) at Augusta National Club in Georgia where Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy will be looking to finally slip on the winner’s green jacket and and go one better than last year when he finished second to American Scottie Scheffler.
The US PGA takes place at Oak Hills course in Rochester, New York from May 18-21, the US Open is scheduled for the following month from June 15-18 in California and the 44th Ryder Cup will take place at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, Italy from September 29 to October 1, with reigning champions the USA eager to retain the title.
It will be also interesting to keep an eye on the development of the breakway LIV Golf tour financed by the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. Enticing top players with eye-watering sums of prize money, the tour truly put the cat amongst the pigeons last year and caused major diruption to the professional game. By announcing further events in Spain, Mexico and Singapore this year, it is clear LIV Golf isn’t going away anytime soon, despite raucous claims that it is just another means for the country to enhance its image via the unsavoury practice of sportswashing, which has seen major events in Formula One, boxing and football also get embroiled.
You’re so special
The Special Olympics World Games aims to showcase the skills and accomplishments of people with intellectual disabilities on a global stage. This year thousands of athletes will convene in Berlin, Germany between June 16-25 to contest 32 Olympic-style summer or winter sports. The event takes place every two years, alternating around the Paralympics, and is backed by a movement with over 4.4 million registered athletes from 170 countries. As huge advocates of diversity and inclusion, Brilliant-Online fully backs this initiative and hopes people will tune in to witness some of the fantastic achievements that will no doubt take place.
To finish our preview, we remain with the diveristy and inclusion theme as we shine a light on The Gay Games, co-hosted by Hong Kong and Guadalajara in Mexico and taking place between November 3-11. It was originally only supposed to be hosted by Hong Kong alone but due to the ongoing strict COVID-19 restrictions imposed last year the decision was made to introduce the Mexican city as a co-host.
Founded in San Francisco in 1982 the Gay Games is a worldwide sport and cultural event that promotes acceptance of sexual diversity, featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) athletes, artists and other individuals. It is open to all, with competitors from many countries including those where homosexuality remains illegal and hidden, and there are no qualifying standards to contest sports as diverse as track and field, swimming, bowling, dancesports, weightlifting, softball and cheerleading.
Of course there is plenty more going on with the likes of NRL and AFL, Premier League, athletics, cycling and so on. Whatever your preference, its safe to sa there will be something for everyone this year and we hope you enjoy!
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