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Game on in 2021 - hopefully!

Game on in 2021 - hopefully!

ALL SPORTS: COVID-19 devastated the sports landscape in 2020 with competitions all over the world affected resulting in high profile postponements and cancellations.

By Ben Tirebuck

Wednesday 6 January 2021, 07:30AM

The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, postponed from last year due to COVID-19, is scheduled to take place this July and the biggest event on the 2021 sporting calendar. Photo: AFP.

The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, postponed from last year due to COVID-19, is scheduled to take place this July and the biggest event on the 2021 sporting calendar. Photo: AFP.

However, assuming there is no repeat impact from the coronavirus, this means that 2021 will have a jam-packed calendar with something for everyone.

The highest profile casualty last year was the Summer Olympic Games, which is now scheduled to take place between Jul 23-Aug 8 in Tokyo, Japan. It will retain the Tokyo 2020 name and will be followed by the Paralympic Games between Aug 24-Sep 5.

Seventeen Thai athletes have thus far earned their place at the Games including taekwondo fighter Panipak Wongpattanakit, boxer Chatchai-decha Butdee and shooter Sutiya Jiewchaloemmit.

Badminton stars Ratchanok Intanon in the women’s singles and Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai in the mixed doubles, along with golfer Ariya Jutanugarn are expected to have their places confirmed shortly.

In football, the postponed Euro 2020 will now run between Jun 11-July 11 and be played across 12 host cities with the final at Wembley Stadium in London.

Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar are set to resume in March although the War Elephants of Thailand have a tough task ahead to progress.

They currently occupy 3rd place in Group G with eight points after five games, three behind leaders Vietnam and one fewer than Malaysia’s tally. Their remaining games are at home to Indonesia and Malaysia and away at the UAE.

The 31st SEA Games will be hosted in Hanoi from Nov 21-Dec 2 with 11 nations competing and 529 gold medals on offer across 40 sports including kickboxing, kurash, jujutsu, vovinam and finswimming.

Thailand will be looking for improvement after finishing third behind the hosts Philippines and Vietnam in the 2019 tournament.

In badminton, the Yonex Thailand Open (Jan12-17), the Toyota Thailand Open (Jan 19-24) and the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2020 (Jan 27-31) are all scheduled to be played in Bangkok.

However, a major blow was dealt on Monday (Jan 4) when the Japanese contingent pulled out after world number one Kento Momota tested positive for coronavirus.

Dan About Thailand

The men’s competitions will be now led by No.2 Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan, No.3 Anders Antonsen and No.4 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark. No.1 Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan and No.6 Carolina Marin of Spain are the top names in the women’s competitions.

Elsewhere, Formula One has set a provisional 23-race calendar for the year, starting in Melbourne on Mar 21 and finishing in Abu Dhabi on Dec 5, which will see new races being held in the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia.

Alex Albon of Red Bull Racing lost his seat to Sergio Perez at the end of last season but will still be involved with the team as a test driver.

In golf, the Masters will return to its usual April timeslot (Apr 8-11) after a coronavirus induced postponement last year saw the competition take place during a very chilly November.

The US Open (Jun 17-20), British Open (Jul 15-18) and Ryder Cup (Sep 24-26) are the other major tournaments this year.

Rugby’s Six Nations will be contested between England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France and Italy. The competition, in its 22nd year, will run between Feb 6-Mar 20 with reigning champions England looking to retain their crown.

The Women’s Rugby World Cup is scheduled to take place in New Zealand between Sep 18-Oct 16 and will be the first time the competition has been held in the southern hemisphere.

The Rugby League World Cup takes place between Oct 23-Nov 27 in England with Jamaica and Greece both making their debut.

There will be plenty more to keep sports enthusiasts entertained throughout the year with the likes of the Super Bowl, tennis, basketball, cricket, AFL, cycling, boxing, athletics, MMA and sailing all hopefully withstanding the coronavirus threat.

Here’s hoping for more celebratory cheers than postponement jeers this year!

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