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NEW YEAR SPECIAL

2021 global sports calendar amid COVID-19

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ALMOST everyone was optimistic about 2020 being a good year, but unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic killed almost every hope. The deadly virus claimed lots of lives, folded a lot of business, forced humans to a new social life which includes social distancing, crowd avoidance, wearing of nose masks, repeated hand washing, avoiding of handshakes, hugs, among others.

One of the sectors affected last year globally was sports. A lot of games were cancelled, others were postponed, fans were banned from the stadiums, some sporting clubs were bankrupt, sports men and women were forced to take pay cut. Some sports resumed while some other sports festivals, such as the Olympics and Paralympics, and Nigeria Sports Festival were shifted to the year 2021.

  Be it as it may, different countries, scientists and others have tried to come up with vaccines but none has enjoyed nor bragged about it working 100 per cent. Therefore, COVID-19 protocols are still very well observed in the world of sports. Unfortunately, things are not getting better as different countries have either gone for a second lockdown or about doing so. But some sporting activities will go as planned while others are yet to know their fate.

  At the local level, the Nigeria Sports Festival was supposed to take place on March 2020.  Tagged Edo 2020, the festival has been postponed times without number. Initially, it was postponed to November, then shifted to Decembe,r 2020, The Nigerian Sports Ministry, had in November, announced the postponement of the festival from December 3 – 18, to January 3 – 17, 2021, and now it is been shifted to February, 2021.

  Nigeria Professional Football League resumed late last year on the December 27, after the 2019 season was canceled due to the virus pandemic. The league will be operational and as usual, fans are yet to be allowed in the stadium.

Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021

  The 33rd edition of AFCON tournament is scheduled to be hosted by Cameroon. The tournament was originally scheduled to be played in June and July, 2021, but the CAF announced on  January 15, 2020, that due to unfavourable climatic conditions during this period, the tournament would take place between  January 9 and 6February 6,2021. On  June 30,2020, CAF moved the tournament for the third time to January 2022, following the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  The Preliminary rounds and two group stages qualifying rounds had been played between October 9, 2019 and November 19,2019. The 3rd and 4th group stage qualifying rounds that were scheduled to take place between 23 to 31 March, 2020 and 1st to 9th June, 2020, respectively, were postponed and all qualifying rounds rescheduled due to the coronavirus outbreak in Africa.

  On  June 30, 2020, however, CAF announced the rescheduling of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations to January 2022, “after consultation with stakeholders and taking into consideration the current global situation” according to CAF, with new dates to be announced later. Subsequently, other continental competitions and events to be held were rescheduled or cancelled.

  AfroBasket (basketball) 2021 will be the 30th edition of the AfroBasket, a men’s basketball continental championship of Africa. The tournament is to be hosted by Rwanda. It was originally scheduled to take place between 17 and 29 August, 2021, but it was moved back a week due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to August 24 to  September 5,2021.

World tennis

  The 2021 Australian Open is a Grand Slam Tennis Tournament  will take place at Melbourne Park, from 8th to 21 February, 2021.

It will be the 109th edition of the Australian Open, the 53rd in the Open Era, and the first Grand Slam of the year. It was originally scheduled for 18–31 January, 2021, but was postponed by three weeks to February, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is part of the 2021 ATP Tour and the 2021 WTA Tour.

  Qualifying for the Australian Open will be held outside the country for the first time, with Doha, Qatar playing host for the men and Dubai, UAE for the women from 10–13 January.. The 8th February start will give qualifiers time to travel  and complete two weeks of quarantine in Australia before the warm-up events start on 31 January.

  The tournament will consist of events for professional players in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Wheelchair players will compete in singles and doubles tournaments. As in previous years, the tournament’s main sponsor is Kia. Spectators will not be allowed.

  WTA announced its latest schedule for the 2021 season through July on Tuesday. The revised calendar includes the French Open and Wimbledon in their traditional spots, with start dates of May 23 and June 28, respectively.

  The WTA had previously shared its calendar for the first seven weeks of the season — starting this week in Abu Dhabi and through the Australian Open. The year’s first major has been delayed three weeks but is set to get underway on Feb. 8.

  Following Melbourne, events will then be held in Doha, Lyon, Dubai, Guadalajara, St. Petersburg and Monterrey.

  Meanwhile The BNP Paribas Open, often called the sport’s “fifth major,” has been postponed. Typically played in March in Indian Wells, California, the event was the first tournament to be canceled during the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, and tournament officials had previously said they were working on finding a new date for 2021.

  The Miami Open, typically the second event of the “Sunshine Swing” after Indian Wells, will be played and is scheduled to begin on March 22. Much of the announced season beyond that follows the traditional WTA calendar, with clay and grass tournaments leading into the two majors.

  According to the World Tennis Association, they claimed the remainder of the season will be announced “in due course.”

  The ATP previously shared its calendar through the Miami Open and indicated there would be little change from the typical spring season beyond that.

  “All subsequent sections of the 2021 calendar, beginning with the spring clay-court season from week 14, remain unchanged at this time, with all tournaments planned to take place as originally scheduled,” the ATP said in a statement last week.

Tokyo 2021 (Olympics)

  The most celebrated historic sports ever in the history of the human race, the Olympics was postponed by a year in its history due to the seriousness of the COVID-19. The Olympics, which was supposed to take place in Tokyo, Japan sparked a lot of controversy.

  The International Olympic Committee (IOC), The International Paralympic Committee (IPC), The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and The Government Of Japan today agreed new dates for the games in 2021. The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be celebrated from July 23 to August 8, 2021. They also agreed on new dates for the paralympic games, which will be celebrated from August 24, until  September 5, 2021.

The leaderships of the key parties came together via telephone conference earlier in 2020, Tokyo 2020 President, Mori Yoshirō, Tokyo Governor, Koike Yuriko and Olympic and Paralympic Minister, Hashimoto Seiko, and agreed on the new schedule.

  This decision was taken based on three main considerations and in line with the principles established by the IOC Executive Board (EB) on 17 , 2020 and confirmed at its meeting today. These were supported by all the International Summer Olympic Sports Federations (IFs) and all the National Olympic Committees (NOCs):

1. To protect the health of the athletes and everyone involved, and to support the containment of the COVID-19 virus.

2. To safeguard the interests of the athletes and of Olympic sport.

3. The global international sports calendar.

  These new dates give the health authorities and all involved in the organisation of the games the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new dates, exactly one year after those originally planned for 2020,Olympic Games: 24 July to  August 9, 2020, and Paralympic Games: 25 August to September 6, 2020, also have the added benefit that any disruption that the postponement will cause to the international sports calendar can be kept to a minimum, in the interests of the athletes and the IFs.

Additionally, they will provide sufficient time to finish the qualification process. The same heat mitigation measures as planned for 2020 will be implemented.

  In a call on Tuesday,  March 24, 2020, based on information provided by the WHO at the time, IOC President, Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister, Abe Shinzō, concluded that the Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020 would be held in their complete form and not later than summer 2021.

The Prime Minister reiterated that the government of Japan stands ready to fulfill its responsibility for hosting these successful games. At the same time, IOC President, Thomas Bach stressed the full commitment of the IOC to successful Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

other sport calendars includes Association Football

National teams

               20 January – 6 February: 2021 – FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in  Costa Rica

               17 February – 7 March: 2021- FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in  India

               20 May – 12 June: 2021- FIFA U-20 World Cup in  Indonesia[1]

               TBD: 2021 FIFA U-17 World Cup in  Peru

Clubs

               1–11 February: 2020 FIFA Club World Cup in  Qatar

               TBD December: 2021 FIFA Club World Cup in  Japan

UEFA

National Teams

               May: 2021 UEFA Women’s U17 Championship in  Faroe Islands

               May – June: 2021 UEFA U17 Championship in  Cyprus

               2 June – 6 June: 2020/21 UEFA Nations League Finals

               9 June – 26 June: 2021 UEFA U21 Championship in  Hungary and  Slovenia

               7 July – 1 August: 2021 UEFA Women’s Euro in  England

               July – August: 2021 UEFA U19 Championship in  Romania

               July – August: 2021 UEFA Women’s U19 Championship in  Belarus

Clubs

               7 October 2020 – 16 May: 2020–21 UEFA Women’s Champions League (final in  Gothenburg)

               17 September 2020 – 26 May: 2020–21 UEFA Europa League (final in  Gdańsk)

               15 September 2020 – 29 May: 2020–21 UEFA Champions League (final in  Istanbul)

               August: 2021 UEFA Super Cup in  Belfast

CAF

National Teams

               11 June – 9 July: 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in  Cameroon

National Basketball Association

               December 22-May 16: 2020-21 NBA season

               May 22–July: 2021 NBA Playoffs

               TBA: 2021 NBA draft

National Collegiate Athletic Association

               March 16-April 5: 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament

               March 19-April 4: 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament

FIBA       3–15 August: 2021 FIBA Asia Cup

               17-29 August: AfroBasket 2021 in  Rwanda

               TBD: 2021 FIBA Intercontinental Cup

FIBA Europe

National teams

               September 2–19: EuroBasket 2021 in  Czech Republic,  Georgia,  Germany and  Italy

Club teams

               September 15, 2020 – May 9: 2020–21 Basketball Champions League

               September 29, 2020 – April 14: 2020–21 EuroCup Basketball

               October 1, 2020 – April 9: 2020–21 EuroLeague (Regular season)

               October 28, 2020 – April 18: 2020–21 EuroLeague Women

               December 9, 2020 – TBD: 2020–21 EuroCup Women

               January 6 – TBD 2020–21 FIBA Europe Cup

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