Messi's future and a tight schedule mark sports in 2021
The Argentinian player's outlook and a number of 2020 posponed competitions define the year
BarcelonaAs the coronavirus began to spread across the globe in late February and early March, few ventured to anticipate that major global sporting competitions, such as the long-awaited Olympic Games, might be paralyzed, suspended or postponed for months. In 2020, probably one of the strangest and saddest years of our lives, the world of sport has not been able to avoid the pandemic either.
After a few strange months with lockdowns everywhere, much of the competition came back in a distorted form during the summer. The Champions League finals in August, without an audience and with a single match in Lisbon, or the NBA urgently ending the competition in the Orlando bubble, as well as the MotoGP or Formula 1 World Cups, are some of the examples of sport in covid-19 times. However, the 2021 calendar has been compressed, often thinking more of business interests of the sports industry than about the athletes themselves. The following is a compilation of the main events that will mark the sports calendar for 2021, the year in which we will try to put an end to the coronavirus in our daily lives.
Barça will be one of the earliest teams to get to work at the beginning of the year. The Liga does not stop and the blaugranes have two immediate commitments: Sunday they will visit Huesca, whereas Wednesday they will go to Bilbao to play against the Athletic Club, a match that belonging to the second day of the championship which was postponed because the blaugranes finished the year later due to the dispute of the final phase of the Champions. Sunday 13th the team will play the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup against the Real Sociedad in Córdoba, while the final will be Sunday 17th in Seville. Shortly after, if the situation of the pandemic does not prevent it, on January 24 the elections to the presidency of the Barça will be celebrated.
The new president will have the challenge to manage the outcome of Leo Messi, whose contract finishes - and who has said that he will not decide its future until the end of the year -, and to assure the economic viability of a club which is currently in red numbers. Whoever receives the most votes on 24 January will have already taken up the post when the team receives PSG in the first leg of the Champions League round on 16 February (the return will be on 10 March). The Champions League final is scheduled for 29th of May at the Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadyumu in Istanbul, Turkey. Three days before, the Europa League finalists will have competed for the title in Gdansk (Poland). In women's football, the final of the Women's Champions League will be played on 16 May at the Gamla Ullevi Stadium in Göteborg (Sweden).
As for the Copa del Rey, it is expected that the Cartuja de Sevilla will host on April 4th last season's match between the Real Sociedad and the Athletic Club, while on the 18th it will host the match of this season. The postponement of the final between Real Sociedad and Athletic Club is explained by the will of both clubs to be able to count on their fans in this decisive derby. There is still no fixed date for the progressive return of the public to the stadiums in the State, a decision that depends on the Spanish government, which has said that it will "study" this possibility in the middle of January. In some countries, such as England, up to 2,000 fans were allowed to return to the stadiums in early December, but the unfavourable development of the pandemic has forced them to revert this measure.
The Dakar opens the multisport year
Regarding multisports, the Dakar Rally will start in 2021 with the tough competition of the motor world that takes place between January 3rd and 15th in Saudi Arabia. The men's handball world championship will also be especially early: the event will take place in Egypt from 13 to 31 January. The women's world championship in the same discipline, however, will not be held until the end of the year, between 2 and 19 December in Spain, which is organising this event for the first time. In the section of clubs, the final four of the handball Champions will be played in Cologne the second weekend of June, six months after the last one, celebrated only a few days ago.
The highlight of February will be the Super Bowl, one of the most popular sporting events in the United States (and an event followed by the entire planet). The event will take place in Tampa (Florida) on the 7th. Four days later, and a little closer to home, in Madrid, the final of the Copa del Rey Basketball Cup will take place between 11 and 14 February. In March, the smell of gasoline will take center stage with the start of the Formula 1 World Championship, with the Australian GP on the 21st, and MotoGP, which will start a week later with the Qatar GP. In March, between 22 and 28, the cycling Vuelta de Catalunya will be disputed, and it hopes to be able to celebrate its centenary.
In May, apart from the outcome of many national championships such as the football or basketball leagues and the celebration of the Champions final, the final four of the basketball Euroleague will also be played, a title that the Barça dreams of. During this month, between the 8th and 30th, the Giro d'Italia will also be held. In June it will be the turn of the women's Eurobasket in Valencia, between 17 and 27. Between 11 June and 11 July the European Football Championship that should have been played last summer will be held. At the moment, the multi-site format is maintained with 12 different countries involved, but the evolution of the coronavirus could change this forecast. At the same time, during the same dates, the Copa America will also be played.
The big event: Tokyo 2021
The main 2021 sports event will be the Tokyo Olympics, which should have been held last summer. The event is scheduled to take place from 23 July to 8 August. Before that, between June 26 and July 18 (and with the risk of stepping on the preventive measures of the Games), the Tour de France is also expected to take place. July 22 is also the deadline for the NBA final. Between August 4 and September 5, the Vuelta de España will be held. Finally, among other sports events around the world, the Barcelona Marathon will take place on November 7th.