Summer Olympics & Euro 2020

in Sport Insight

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A thrilling year in prospect as 2020 gets set to deliver a sumptuous feast of spectacular sport, dominated by the Summer Olympics from Tokyo, football’s Euro 2020 finals, cricket’s T20 World Cup,  golf’s Ryder Cup and boxing’s search to discover who is the true heavyweight King of the Ring, while at local level Gibraltar, revelling in the Rock’s ever-increasing participation in world sport, hosts three international events. Let’s take a look at how this treasure-laden year may unfold.

Summer Olympics

The 2020 Summer Olympics scheduled to take place from 24th July to 9th August will be held in Tokyo, the second time the Land of the Rising Sun has hosted the Games, the first occasion being back in 1964. Fresh from staging Rugby Union’s World Cup, universally acclaimed as the most enjoyable and successful ever, despite the country being ravaged mid-tournament by Typhoon Hagibis, Japan has put up a staggering £3bn towards the cost of staging Tokyo 2020, the mammoth event that will see over 11,000 athletes from 206 nations competing in 33 sports, one of which is the newly introduced sport of skateboarding, its inclusion a stunt nothing short of sacrilege to a gnarled old traditionalist like myself.

Growing up, the Olympics generated the same excitement as football’s World Cup, legends such as Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis, Cassius Clay, Mark Spitz, the unforgettable duels between Seb Coe and Steve Ovett, Daley Thompson, later Michael Johnson and the phenomenon that was Usain Bolt, are all indelible treasured memories, but, alas, lately the love has waned, the magic has dissipated, state-sponsored cheating has tainted the Games, Russia has just been warned off for another four years but still the perception persists that the cheats continue to prosper.

To reclaim public affection, Tokyo 2020 needs a new hero or heroine, and, perhaps, in Dina Asher-Smith, the fastest British lady sprinter of all time, there may well be one in waiting. Dina, a charming, delightful, effervescent, unaffected girl from Orpington, could emerge as the Games saviour, and she is the main reason I will be watching the Games this summer.

Euro 2020 Finals 

Spread over 12 host cities the Euro 2020 Finals take place from 12th June with the final scheduled for Wembley on 12th July. England qualified impressively for the finals and with all their group games being played at home, as well as the semi-finals and final, confidence is high that Gareth Southgate’s youthful side can finally annexe the European Nations title to display alongside the World Cup of 1966 – now a dim, distant memory of 54 years. England have been drawn with old foe Croatia and the Czech Republic with the tantalising prospect of Scotland joining the group should the Jocks win their play-off spot. England vs Scotland in the Euros, forget the disparity in world ranking between the sides, tribal warfare will once again roar to the fore and level the score, an army of kilted warriors descending on Wembley with the sound of bagpipes resonating around the stadium –  yes, should it come to pass, this will be a clash to relish, a titan test for brave hearts not faint hearts. Wales under the guidance of Ryan Giggs have also qualified for the finals and will fancy their chances while either Northern Ireland or the Republic could yet join the tournament if successful in the playoffs.

Boxing

It’s way past time for the heavyweight division to sort itself out but, unfortunately, progress depends on the good will of boxing promoters, a species I rank alongside football agents and politicians, especially prime ministers and presidents of very recent vintage, as grubbing along in the relegation zone of the Integrity League, racing without control on the road to Hell. Time to stop hyping dubious overweight boxing bums and give the public what they want, a Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua eliminator, way past time to give Fury the respect shamefully denied him so far, it’s time for the King of the Gypsies to become King of the Ring.

Elsewhere in this special sports year…

In cricket England will attempt to add the T20 World Cup in Melbourne next October to last year’s  One Day title, while golf will see the United States attempt to “ Make America Great Again” by avenging the humiliating defeat inflicted by Europe on Uncle Sam in the Ryder Cup in France last time. How sweet would it be to ram Trump’s moronic mantra down his throat by once again spanking the Yanks, this time in their own backyard.

The Gibraltar International Chess Festival, regarded as one of the best in the world, takes place from the 20th to 30th of this month, and the world’s top darts players, including Michael van Gerwen, are expected to take part in the Gibraltar Darts Trophy, 25th-27th September. The Gibraltar Snooker Open, scheduled for March 11-15th , will see Stuart Bingham return to defend his trophy, and now that the event is sponsored by BetVictor, will the extra prize money tempt Rocket Ronnie to turn up – after his outrageous “pigsty” comments last year, he’ll be guaranteed a hot Rock reception.

Sports diary 2020 – a look at this year’s  spectacular sports schedule

Jan 1st: Darts PDC World Championship Final
Alexander Palace, London

Jan 4-12th: Darts BDO World Championship
Lakeside, Frimley Green

Jan 19-30th: Chess
Gibraltar International Chess Festival

Jan 20th-2nd Feb: Tennis
Australian Open – Melbourne

Feb 1st – Mar 14th
Rugby Union Six Nations Championship

Feb 2nd: NFL
Super Bowl  Final – Miami, Florida

March 10-13th: Horse Racing
Cheltenham National Hunt Festival

March 11-15th: Snooker
Gibraltar Snooker Open, sponsored by BetVictor

March 15th: Motor Racing
Australian F1 Grand Prix

April 9-12th: Golf 
US Masters Tournament – Augusta, Georgia

April 18th-4th May: Snooker
World Snooker Championship – The Crucible, Sheffield

May 10th: Motor Racing
Spanish F1 Grand Prix

May 23rd: Football
FA Cup Final

May 24th : Motor Racing
Monaco F1 Grand Prix

May 24th – June 7th: Tennis
French Open

May 27th: Football 
Europa League Final – Gdansk, Poland

May 30th: Football 
UEFA Champions League Final – Istanbul, Turkey

June 6th: Horse Racing 
The Derby – Epsom

June 12th–12th July: Football 
UEFA Euro 2020 Finals – hosted across 12 nations

June 16-20th: Horse Racing 
Royal Ascot Festival 

June 18-21st: Golf
US Open – New York

June 27th–19th July: CYCLING 
Tour de France

June 29th-13th July: Tennis 
Wimbledon Championships 

July 16-19th: Golf 
British Open – Sandwich, England

July 19th: Motor Racing
British F1 Grand Prix – Silverstone

July 24th-9th: August 
2020 Summer Olympics, Tokyo

Aug 31st-13th Sept: Tennis 
US Open – New York

Sept 25-27th: Golf
The Ryder Cup – Haven, Wisconsin

Sept 25-27th: Darts 
Gibraltar Darts Trophy – Tercentenary Hall

Oct 18th-15th Nov: Cricket 
ICC T20 World Cup – Australia 

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