2020 was a dampener on the world of sports. With most major sporting events either postponed or cancelled, 2021 will inshallah be the year where it all picks up. Here’s a round-up of sporting events to look forward to in 2021.
📅 6th February – 20th March
📍 Ireland, Scotland, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Wales
One of the oldest tournaments in rugby is set to begin early next month. 2020 saw England emerge as winners of the Six Nations Championship, and it remains to be seen whether the 13-time Grand Slam winner defend their title. With on-going debates surrounding carrying on with play in the current climate, and the postponement of the Women’s Six Nations Championship, all ears now await news of any last-minute developments on the championship league. No crowds will be permitted to attend the February championship.
📅 29 May 2021
The 2021 UEFA Champions League Final will be the final match of the 2020–21 UEFA Champions League, scheduled at Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, home of the Turkish national football team. Originally scheduled to be played at the Krestovsky Stadium in Russia, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe, and the subsequent postponement and relocation of the 2020 final, the final hosts were shifted back a year, with Istanbul instead hosting the 2021 final. Atatürk famously staged the 2005 UEFA Champions League decider, where Liverpool came from 3-0 down at half-time to beat AC Milan on penalties.
📅 May 22-July 22
The NBA Board of Governors recently announced changes to the NBA basketball season. The pandemic shortened regular season to 72 games (from the traditional 82-game season) and includes a playoff Play-In Tournament in each conference on a one-year basis for the 2020-21 season. Ten teams in each conference will advance to the postseason, with teams seeded 7th through 10th participating in a Play-In Tournament to gain admission to the conference playoffs. The NBA playoffs are due to end by July 22, to avoid coinciding with the opening ceremonies of the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics. The All-Star break is scheduled to take place March 5-10, 2021, between the First Half and Second Half of the regular season.
📅 11 June – 11 July
📍 12 European cities; Semi-final and finals in England
Originally scheduled to take place from 12 June 2020, Euro 2020 was postponed due to COVID-19. New dates were proposed in March last year, with UEFA also citing postponement to reduce pressure on the public services in affected countries, and to allow time for the completion of suspended domestic leagues. UEFA President Michel Platini said the tournament is being hosted in several nations as a one-off event to celebrate the ‘60th birthday’ of the European Championship competition. However, UEFA will make a final decision mid-March, on the possibility of hosting football fans and matches in 12-cities. Cancellation of the Euro 2020 is not an option, leaving UEFA to consider the possibility of closed-door matches in France or Germany.
📅 26 Jun-18 July
The 2021 Tour de France 2021 is almost back to its original calendar date, unlike last year’s 107th edition of the race, which saw a delayed start on 29th August. The 2021 cycling competition, has been brought forward from its original date to avoid clashing with the Tokyo Olympics. The 2021 edition will have six mountain stages with three summit finishes, eight flat stages, five hilly stages and two-time trials, covering a total of 3,383km. The 2021 Tour de France kicks off with a Grand Départ in Brest, Brittany and a traditional finish in Paris along the Champs-Élysées.
📅 28 June – 11 July
📍 United Kingdom
It was for the first time since 1945 that the oldest Grand Slam tournament, the Wimbledon Championships, was cancelled in 2020; Leaving little to no chance for tennis fans to see a classic final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, or the possibility of Serena Williams returning to the singles final and win, to tie a previous record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. While the 2021 dates were announced last year, organizers are reluctant to host the tennis tournament without an in-stadium audience. However, Andy Murray has called for the 2021 Wimbledon to go ahead regardless of the presence of fans.
📅 23 July – 8 August
In 2020, if there’s an event that the world had its eyes set on, it was the Tokyo Olympics. With thousands of athletes from over 200 nations, competing in various competitions, the pushback of the Games affected both spectators and athletes alike. Japanese officials only very recently confirmed preparations were well underway for the now Tokyo Olympics 2021, with postponement ‘absolutely impossible’. While the IOC and Games organizers have promised a ‘toolbox’ of measures to ensure the safety of athletes, officials and Games-related staff, allowing overseas spectators to attend, still remains in question.
📅 8 October – 15 November
While the postponement of the 2020 T20 World Cup scheduled to be hosted in Australia, disappointed cricket fans, new dates have been announced, with India now set to host the 2021 T20 World Cup for a second time. After a thrilling 2016 final which saw Carlos Brathwaite hit four consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes in the final over, Marlon Samuels scoring the highest score in World T20 final history – 85 (not out) from 66 balls and Bravo releasing his first single Champion to commemorate West Indies 2016 T20 World Cup win, fans will be glued to see if the 2021 tournament lives up to its promise of showcasing a rich cricket-viewing experience. Given the pandemic and as a precautionary measure, Sri Lanka and the UAE are understood to be among the back-up venues, if India is unable to host the tournament.
With sporting events ready to roll, it’s time to prep your jerseys and rehearse your anthems.