The coronavirus pandemic caused havoc on the cultural and sporting calendar this year. Here's how several prominent local, regional and international events plan to get back up and running in 2021
Abu Dhabi T10
The fourth season of the 10-over cricket tournament was scheduled to run in November. It might reasonably have gone ahead, were it not for significant rejigs to cricket's calendar elsewhere, including the IPL and the PSL. As such, the organisers took the decision to reschedule to January 28 to February 6, 2021.
While the 2020 Academy Awards went ahead unscathed, the same isn't true for next year's ceremony. Postponed from its usual February date, the ceremony is now slated to take place on Sunday, April 25, and will be held as a traditional in-person telecast. The postponement has also pushed the deadline for filmmakers to submit their films to February 28.
One of the UAE's top art events of the year, Art Dubai was caught in the first wave of cancelled events in 2020, with its 14th event slated for mid-March. This month, Art Dubai announced its programme for the 2021 event, which will be one of the first in-person fairs to be held since the pandemic began. Around 86 galleries are already on the list to display works, and fair organisers plan to scatter activities across Dubai's art spaces.
Cannes Film Festival
Organisers announced in March that the film festival would be postponed, before cancelling the 2020 festival all together. The next Cannes is scheduled to take place in May 2021. Organisers have said they intend the festival to run as planned, although there is a chance that it will be staged later in the summer.
Dubai Rugby Sevens
The Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens was cancelled for the first time in its 51-year history in 2020. It was announced in July that the first two legs of the World Sevens Series, in Dubai and Cape Town, would not go ahead. Plans for a local invitational tournament were also later scuppered. The event is expected to return at the end of 2021. “We look forward to welcoming the world of rugby sevens back to The Sevens Stadium in Dubai,” Tom Burwell, the tournament director, said.
The 16th football European Championship, commonly known as Euro 2020, was originally scheduled to take place from June 12-July 12, 2020, across 12 cities on the continent. In June it was agreed to restage the tournament the following year, to be held from June 11-July 11, 2021, while still being called Euro 2020. Rome's Stadio Olimpico will host the opening match, while Wembley, England's national stadium, will stage both semi-finals and the final.
Expo 2020 Dubai
Perhaps the most anticipated event of this year across the Emirates was Expo 2020 Dubai. Four years in the making, Dubai was well on track to deliver a spectacular six-month international event. Once it became clear it would not be safe to host the event, the expo was postponed until October 2021. More than 190 countries are still due to take part with Dubai preparing to welcome millions of visitors.
Organisers said the postponement would only strengthen the event.
“I assure you that the UAE is absolutely ready to deliver a world-class event whatever the size of our physical and online audience," said Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation and director general of Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau. “After all see, how far we have come ... since Covid-19 became recognised as a global pandemic."
Expo 2020 Dubai will be held at the Dubai South site from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.
In early March 2020, festival organisers made the decision to pull the plug on its milestone 50th anniversary celebrations, which were due to take place between June 25 and 29 and feature a bumper bill of more than 1,000 acts. Glastonbury's cancellation was a bellwether for the decimated live music industry, which saw other key events such as Coachella and the Montreux Jazz Festival called off in April and June respectively. It is not yet clear whether the June 2021 festival will go ahead as planned.
International Defence Exhibition and Conference, Idex
From armoured vehicles to reconnaissance drones, the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex) is where billions of dirhams worth of contracts for military technologies are signed. More than 1,300 exhibitors are due to take part in next year's event, which will be held partly online and with safety measures in place. It will be staged from February 21 to 25 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
Met Gala 2021
Every year, fashion history is made on the sweeping stairs of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Organised by Anna Wintour, the annual Met Gala takes place on the first Monday of May, and sees the world’s most stylish celebrities converge for a fundraising event. Originally scheduled to take place on Monday, May 4, the Met Gala 2020 was postponed indefinitely on March 16, due to increasing public health concerns over the spread of Covid-19, and then cancelled in May. Met Gala 2021 is scheduled for May 3, but a theme has yet to be confirmed.
With the sporting calendar thrown into disarray, in April it was announced that golf's Ryder Cup would remain in its September 25-27 berth. From there, debate raged as to whether the 43rd edition of the biennial tournament, to take place at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, should go ahead even without fans in attendance. Eventually, it was pushed back in June to September 24-26, 2021.
T20 World Cup
Men’s cricket will have three World Cups in the space of three years from 2021 to 2023. The decision was taken in July to postpone the 2020 T20 World Cup, which had been scheduled to be played in October and November in Australia. The 2021 version will go ahead in India, as was planned, with the 20-over event returning a year later to Australia. The following year, the 50-over World Cup will take place, also in India.
The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo were postponed for a year as the pandemic took grip, and are now scheduled to run from Friday, July 21, to Sunday, August 8. Discussions are ongoing about whether spectators will be allowed to attend.
Organisers will spend $900 million on measures to stop the spread of the virus, and John Coates, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, is calling them the "Games that conquered Covid". The IOC maintained they will not delay the Games beyond 2021.
The schedules for the Venice Architecture Biennale and the revered art exhibition were postponed to 2021 and 2022 respectively due to the pandemic. Meant to open in May this year, the architecture exhibition was first rescheduled to August. As the Covid-19 situation in Italy and around the world worsened in the subsequent months, however, the organisation behind the shows decided to push both international events by a year. The 17th International Architecture Exhibition will now take place in May 2021, while the 59th International Art Exhibition is scheduled for April 2022.
For the first time since the Second World War, the Wimbledon Championships were cancelled during a professional tennis season that was severely disrupted, with the sport going into shutdown between March and the end of August. Financially, though, Wimbledon did not suffer too significantly, having paid pandemic insurance for the past 17 years and reportedly received a payout of approximately $141 million. It was the only one of the four majors to take out such protection. The Championships will be back in 2021 in its usual end of June slot.
World Government Summit
This year's World Government Summit was set to take place in Dubai in November, during Expo. It was due to be the largest gathering yet with more than 10,000 high-profile officials and hundreds of experts and scholars expected to attend. When the Expo was postponed, the summit was moved online and held in December. The dates for next year's event have yet to be announced and organisers are still to decide if it will be held virtually or in-person. Typically held in the final few months of the year, and with vaccination programmes under way across several countries, it is likely the summit will have a physical presence next year.
Year in review