A number of sporting events have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Keep up-to-date with the latest developments here.
The women’s T20 World Cup concludes in Australia, with the hosts recovering from an opening defeat to India to join them in the semi-finals with England. South Africa are favourites to join them, with the final on Sunday 8 March. The men’s and women’s Six Nations are set to conclude, but matches involving Italy have been postponed – although England’s men’s game in Rome on 14 March is set to go ahead.
Formula One returns with the traditional curtain-raiser in Melbourne, which is set to go ahead despite coronavirus fears. Lewis Hamilton will begin his bid to match Michael Schumacher’s haul of seven world titles. Elsewhere, it’s arguably the biggest week in horse racing at the Cheltenham Festival, while England play two Test matches in Sri Lanka.
Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will battle for the final Euro 2020 places as 16 teams are cut down to four in the play-offs. England’s women head to the States to face the USA, Japan and Spain in the SheBelieves Cup. The Major League Baseball season gets under way, and the men’s and women’s Boat Races take place on the Thames.
The first LPGA major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, is held in California. One week later, it’s over to Augusta for the first men’s golf major of the year, with Tiger Woods defending his Masters title. The Chinese Grand Prix, slated for Shanghai, has been postponed indefinitely, while the first-ever Vietnam Grand Prix in Hanoi remains in the balance.
Other sporting highlights include the Grand National – with Tiger Roll chasing a hat-trick of wins – the start of cricket’s County Championship season, the London Marathon and two weeks of tension at the Crucible, as Judd Trump battles to retain his world snooker title.
It’s a month of finals, with the men’s and women’s FA Cup showpieces at Wembley, the women’s Champions League in Vienna and the men’s Champions League in Istanbul. Not forgetting the Scottish Cup, Europa League and EFL play-offs, with football’s richest game, the Championship play-off final, offering a lucrative place in the Premier League.
The first of cycling’s three Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia, is set to start in Budapest, although the Covid-19 outbreak in Italy means the entire event is in doubt. The Netherlands hosts an F1 Grand Prix, with the Indy 500 and Monaco GP also taking place. Thrill seekers might also want to head to Cardiff for the Nitro World Games – the largest action sports event ever held in the UK.
Another event with a question mark over it, Euro 2020 is set to be held this month in 12 different cities from Dublin to Baku. England and Wales are the only qualified home nations so far, with Scotland and Republic of Ireland in the play-offs. England will play their group games at Wembley, plus the semi-finals and final - if they get that far. Gareth Southgate’s side are in Group D with Croatia, Czech Republic and a play-off winner.
Wales are in Group A, with a trip to face Italy and two other games in Azerbaijan, against Switzerland and Turkey. If that sounds tough, spare a thought for the play-off winners who end up in Group F – with Germany, France and holders Portugal. Sixteen teams will progress from the groups into a straight knockout.
The Copa América takes place in Argentina and Colombia, and there’s plenty of action away from football. England play three home Tests against the West Indies, and there are three golf majors as the US Open, women’s US Open and women’s PGA are contested in the US. There are also three big rugby union finals, with the Premiership, Pro14 and Super Rugby trophies to be won.
The Tour de France sets off from Nice on the long road to Paris. It’s hard to bet against another Team Ineos winner, but will it be defending champion Egan Bernal, or can Geraint Thomas or Chris Froome secure another British win? Speaking of which, this could be a big month for Andy Murray, with Queen’s Club and a potential Wimbledon return as he continues his fightback from injury.
It’s the biggest sporting event on earth; 11,000 athletes from more than 200 nations, competing in 339 events across 33 sports. The 32nd Olympic Games, the second to be held in Tokyo, will dominate the sporting summer – providing coronavirus does not lead to a postponement.
While Rio 2016 suffered from big distances between venues and poor infrastructure, that shouldn’t be a problem in Tokyo. Thirteen of the venues, including the National Stadium, are within 5km of the athletes’ village, although the marathon and walking events will be in the northern city of Sapporo, due to concerns over heat.
British medal hopes include Dina Asher-Smith in the 200m and Katarina Johnson-Thompson in heptathlon, Adam Peaty in the pool, Laura Kenny in the velodrome and 11-year-old skateboarder Sky Brown. New events to watch out for include 3-on-3 basketball, surfing, speed climbing, skateboarding and karate, while baseball and softball will be popular draws in Japan after being brought back to the Games.
The British summer of sport should also be in full swing. Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep are looking to defend their Wimbledon titles, while Lewis Hamilton will go for a seventh British Grand Prix crown at Silverstone. After Shane Lowry’s memorable win at Portrush last year, can anyone end the long wait for an English winner at Royal St George’s in The Open?
The ECB’s controversial new cricket tournament, The Hundred, finally kicks off this summer. Eight new city franchises have drafted players, with men’s and women’s teams competing for a place in the inaugural finals in August. Time will tell if the bold new format - 15 six-ball overs, then a 10-ball final over - will draw more casual fans than the disbanded Women’s Super League, or the men’s county-based T20 Blast, which will continue.
Two weeks after the Olympic closing ceremony, the torch is passed to the Paralympic Games. Also set for Tokyo, the Paralympics will welcome 4,400 athletes competing in over 500 events. British names to watch out for include runner Sophie Hahn, former swimming medallist turned para-canoeist Charlotte Henshaw and Amy Truesdale, who is chasing gold in the new para-taekwondo event.
Elsewhere, England complete what’s sure to be an entertaining Test series against Pakistan, while the year’s third and final grand tour, the Vuelta, begins with a jaunt to the Dutch city of Utrecht. The domestic football season kicks off too, with the Premier League and Football League returning early in August.
Europe are bidding to retain the Ryder Cup trophy they won emphatically in France two years ago, as the USA takes over hosting duties. Europe lead 7-2 in wins since the turn of the century and will fancy their chances of an away win at Whistling Straits. The lakeside Wisconsin course looks and feels like Scottish links, complete with sheep, stone bridges and testing weather conditions.
September also sees T20 Blast finals day, the Royal London Cup final and the county championship’s closing rounds. The Tour of Britain begins with a first-ever visit to Cornwall, while the road cycling world championships take place amid the peaks of Vaud and Valais in Switzerland.
There’s a double helping of T20 World Cups in 2020, with the men’s tournament also taking place in Australia at some of cricket’s most iconic venues, from the Gabba to the MCG. England will be on the hunt for another trophy, and revenge after their dramatic late defeat to the West Indies in 2016.
The Windies, the hosts or familiar foes New Zealand are all potential semi-final opponents for England if they progress from their Super 12s group. Ireland and Scotland, meanwhile, will hope to make it out of their preliminary groups after qualifying for the tournament.
Elsewhere, the Champions League group stages will be heating up, and F1 enters the home straight with races in Japan and the USA. Super League’s showpiece finale, the grand final, takes place at Old Trafford, before an Ashes series between England and Australia which concludes at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The Formula One season reaches its climax in Abu Dhabi, and there are year-ending showdowns in men’s and women’s tennis, plus golf in Dubai. Two of the biggest horse races in the world, the Melbourne and Breeders’ Cups, will be contested, and the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations will kick off – although the hosts are yet to be confirmed.
The sporting year ends with a few festive staples – the PDC world darts championship returns, and there will be the usual post-Christmas football and horse racing action. The Club World Cup will return to Qatar, 12 months on from Liverpool’s victory. The European cross-country athletics championships will be held in Ireland, snooker’s UK Championship will be played out in York, and one hero from the past year will win the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award.
… and here’s what you might have missed:
A big month for tennis began with the ATP Cup, a new team event won by Novak Djokovic’s Serbia, who beat Rafa Nadal’s Spain in the final. Djokovic wasn’t done there, going on to win the Australian Open final after an epic battle with Dominic Thiem. Sofia Kenin was the unexpected women’s champion, fighting back to beat Garbiñe Muguruza in a classic final. From Djokovic’s altercation with an umpire to the bushfire haze that hung over Melbourne, the tournament was beset by controversies.
In cricket, England completed a dramatic comeback to win the Test series in South Africa, with victory at the Wanderers securing a 3-1 win. In football, Aston Villa booked their place at Wembley with a two-legged semi-final win over Leicester. Dean Smith’s side will play Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final, after they limped over the line in a derby double-header with United.
Elsewhere, Peter Wright shocked the darting world on New Year’s Day, beating favourite Michael van Gerwen 7-3 in the PDC world final. Wayne Warren took the BDO title, becoming the oldest ever champion at 57 – but the event suffered from poor crowds and low prize money. In snooker, Stuart Bingham beat Ali Carter and off-table distractions to win the Masters.
In the first weekend of the month, all eyes were on Miami for Super Bowl LIV. The Kansas City Chiefs earned their first NFL championship for 50 years, rallying to beat a San Francisco side who had one hand on the Vince Lombardi trophy in the fourth quarter. The NBA’s All-Star weekend in Chicago was overshadowed by the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash.
Tyson Fury became a world heavyweight champion again, completing a remarkable recovery from depression and addiction issues. He ended Deontay Wilder’s unbeaten round by seventh-round knockout in Las Vegas; his opponent later claimed that his elaborate ring-walk costume had sapped his energy.
The Six Nations kicked off, with France surging towards a potential grand slam with home wins over England and Italy and an away victory in Cardiff – before the coronavirus outbreak left organisers battling to complete the tournament. Cycling’s UAE Tour was cancelled with two stages left to race, with Chris Froome among the field of riders quarantined before being allowed to return home.
Manchester City were hit by a two-season ban from the Champions League, but kept their on-field focus to beat Real Madrid in their last-16, first-leg encounter. It was a welcome boost for English clubs after Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea lost their first legs. Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League run was also ended by Watford, but they remain on course to canter to the title.