Tokyo Olympics, Euro 2020, Dubai World Cup - major sports events to see in 2021
We take a look at the major sporting events confirmed for 2021 or provisionally scheduled
A host of major sporting events were postponed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Tokyo Olympics and Euro 2020 were the two most high-profile casualties, while in the UAE the Dubai Rugby Sevens was cancelled for the first time in its 50-year history as was the richest night in horse racing, the Dubai World Cup.
If there is a crumb of comfort to be had out of that, it's that we can look forward to those and more in 2021.
We take a look at the major sporting events confirmed for 2021 or provisionally scheduled.
Note: All events and dates are subject to change and it is unclear which events will allow fans to attend.
Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open
Abu Dhabi will host a brand new tournament that will kickstart the 2021 WTA Tour season, organisers announced last week.
Taking place January 5-13 at Zayed Sports City International Tennis Centre, the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open will provide players an opportunity to prepare for the Australian Open. The qualifying rounds for the season's first Grand Slam will be held in Dubai from January 10-13.
Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
The 2021 European Tour calendar will commence and conclude in the UAE, with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, one of four Rolex Series, teeing off the season.
Major champions Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas have been confirmed for the January 21-24 tournament taking place at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Next month’s UFC 257 marks Conor McGregor’s much-anticipated return to the octagon, in his rematch with Dustin Poirier scheduled for January 23.
Although the location is yet to be confirmed, the UFC are targeting a third Fight Island stint in the UAE capital in the space of six months, with the promotion’s president Dana White aiming for three events across a week beginning on January 16.
Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Collin Morikawa are among the players confirmed for the 2021 Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The trio was announced alongside Sergio Garcia and Tyrrell Hatton to tee it up at the January 28-31 event at Emirates Golf Club. Rose, the 2013 US Open winner, returns for the first time since 2009, while defending champion Lucas Herbert has also been confirmed as he looks to retain the title he won earlier this year.
Superb Bowl LV
The 55th Super Bowl and the 51st modern-era National Football League (NFL) championship game, will decide the champions for the 2020 NFL season.
The game is scheduled to be played on February 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
The 2021 Australian Open will start on February 8, three weeks later than scheduled, the ATP Tour said.
The start date of the main draw of the tournament was originally slated for January 18 and Tennis Australia have been locked in drawn-out negotiations with local government over Covid-19 health security measures.
The Middle East's only WorldTour race returns to the UAE with the 2021 UAE Tour confirmed for February 21-27.
Last year's race had to be abandoned with two days to go due to the coronavirus pandemic, with British rider Adam Yates declared the winner.
According to the UAE Tour organisers Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Dubai Sports Council and RCS Sport, all 19 UCI WorldTeams have confirmed their participation for the 2021 Tour.
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
The 2021 ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is scheduled to begin on March 13 after the governing body of men's tennis released the calendar for the first quarter of the season.
Dubai was initially pencilled in for February 14-27, with the WTA tournament preceding the ATP event, although those dates were always subject to change once it was announced the Australian Open would be delayed until February 8. The first Grand Slam of the season is traditionally held during January.
Dubai World Cup
The 2020 Dubai World Cup in March was cancelled at a week's notice, as the Government put sporting events in the country on lockdown to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The event would have marked the 25th anniversary of the richest night in horse racing.
The 2021 edition is slated for March 27 at Dubai's flagship racecourse Meydan.
The 2021 Masters will be its 85th edition and the first of golf's four major championships to be held in 2021. It will be held from April 8–11 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.
Dustin Johnson won the rescheduled 2020 Masters in November with a record score of 268, 20-under-par.
The 2020 French Open was played in the cold of Autumn but is scheduled to return to its traditional slot in the Parisian spring this year.
Tennis' second Grand Slam of the year starts May 23 and is sure to feature its most decorated player, Rafael Nadal, as he bids for a record-extending 14th Roland Garros crown.
Europa League final
The 2021 Europa League final will be played on May 26 at the Gdańsk City Stadium in Poland, with European heavyweights such as AC Milan and Manchester United still in the hunt.
Champions League final
The 2021 Champions League Final takes place at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey on May 29.
Football's 16th European Championship was originally scheduled to take place from June 12-July 12, 2020 across 12 cities on the continent but was postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In June it was agreed to restage the tournament the following year, to be held from June 11-July 11 across 12 cities. It will still retain the name "Euro 2020".
Rome's Stadio Olimpico will host the opening match on June 11, while England's national stadium Wembley will stage both semi-finals and the final.
Like its European equivalent, the 2020 Copa America was postponed as the world came to grips with the Covid-19 outbreak.
Unlike the Euros, this year's Copa America has been rebranded with the year "2021" and will take place in Colombia and Argentina from June 11-July 10.
Brazil are the title holders, having won their ninth title in 2019.
Golf's third major of the year is scheduled to be played June 17–20 at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California.
Tour de France
The 2021 Tour de France will be the race's 108th edition. One of cycling's three grand tours, this year's Tour was originally planned for the Danish capital of Copenhagen but was transferred to Brest due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Originally scheduled for 2 to 25 July 2-25, the Tour was moved to June 26 to July 18 to avoid rescheduling of the 2020 Summer Olympics.
England's grass-court Grand Slam was cancelled for the first time since World War II in the wake of the pandemic, as tennis suffered a near global shutdown last summer.
This year's tournament takes place at the All England Club from June 29-July 12.
Golf's final Grand Slam of the year, commonly referred to as The Open, returns to Royal St George's for the first time since 2011, when an emotional Darren Clarke fulfilled his boyhood dream of winning the Claret Jug.
The four-day event begins on July 15.
Tokyo 2020 was postponed by 12 months in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but promising vaccine trials and an additional year to prepare have boosted hopes that the Games can go ahead without interruption this year.
The coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics will cost at least an extra $2.4 billion, according to organisers, with the unprecedented postponement and a raft of pandemic health measures ballooning an already outsized budget.
The Games are set to take place from July 23 to August 8.
British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa
The Lions will play a three-match Test series against South Africa with matches on July 24, 31 and August 7. Unlike previous series, where the Lions played seven additional games against local teams, in 2021 there will only be five additional games, making a total of eight.
As with the Tokyo Games, the 2020 Paralympics was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Paralympics typically holds over 500 events and runs from August 24 to September 5.
Such was the topsy-turvy nature of the tennis calendar, the 2020 US Open took place before the French Open, making it the third Grand Slam of the year instead of the last.
Dominic Thiem beat Alexander Zverev in the men's final for his first major title while Naomi Osaka clinched her third Grand Slam and second US Open title with victory over Victoria Azarenka.
This year's tournament is slated to take place at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center from August 30 to September 12.
Postponed by 12 months from its original 2020 date, the 43rd Ryder Cup will now take place September 24-26. Whistling Straits in Haven Wisconsin, which most recently hosted the 2015 US PGA Championship, will be the venue as Team Europe aims to defend the trophy they won in Paris, where they thrashed Team USA 17½–10½.
Rugby League World Cup
The 2021 Rugby League World Cup will be the sixteenth staging of the Rugby League World Cup and will be held in England between 23 October 23 to November 27.
The tournament will include 16 teams, an increase of two from the last two tournaments, and feature 31 matches.
Men's T20 World Cup
The Covid-19 delayed seventh edition of the men's T20 World Cup will this year be held in India.
Although no official start date has been given, a provisional date of November 14 has been pencilled in for the final.
Saudi Arabia Grand Prix
The inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will take place on November 28 after Formula One published its draft calendar for 2021 last month.
The kingdom’s inaugural F1 race will be staged on a street circuit in Jeddah on November 28, beginning and concluding on the city’s corniche and running along the Red Sea.
Dubai Rugby Sevens
The single most permanent feature of the UAE’s sporting landscape was another casualty of this year's pandemic.
For the first time since it started 50 years ago, the Dubai Rugby Sevens did not take place this December, because of the effects of Covid-19.
Thankfully, organisers of the Dubai Rugby Sevens confirmed on January 20 that this year's tournament will return to its traditional place on the National Day weekend this year.
The tournament is expected to involve more teams than ever before, and include cricket for the first time, will take place from December 2-4.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Max Verstappen brought the curtain down on a slimmed down F1 season by taking the chequered flag to win the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last week.
The Red Bull driver will get a chance to showcase his talents at Yas Marina Circuit again in 2021 with the season-ending race set to take place over the National Day weekend of December 3-5.
Updated: January 31, 2021 02:50 PM