A bumper sporting year lies ahead in 2022 with the World Cup in Qatar one of several blue riband events on the sporting calendar.
The Winter Olympics in Beijing, the Commonwealth Games and UEFA’s Women’s European Championship will also be held this year and all eyes will be on Emma Raducanu and Sir Lewis Hamilton.
Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the talking points ahead of a huge 12 months of sport.
England could not have gone closer to ending their 55-year wait to win a major trophy at last summer’s Euro 2020 when they lost on penalties to Italy in the final. Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions also reached the semi-finals at Russia 2018 and will head to Qatar for the first World Cup finals to be held in winter with genuine belief they can finally ‘bring football home’. Scotland and Wales, on a collision course in the play-offs, will be hoping to join the party.
Show must go on
The International Olympic Committee guaranteed in early December that the Beijing Winter Games will start February 4. The Tokyo 2020 summer Games were postponed by 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, but despite concerns over the Omicron variant, the IOC said that will not be repeated. Events will not be held behind closed doors, but only people from mainland China will be able to attend the Games.
Women take centre stage
Euro 2022 will be held in England in July, while New Zealand will host both the Cricket World Cup and Rugby World Cup, in March-April and October-November respectively. England are among the favourites in all three showcase events, which were postponed last year because of the pandemic, while the Red Roses’ dominant rugby team underlined their world number one status with recording-breaking back-to-back wins against world champions New Zealand in November.
Emma Raducanu completed a meteoric rise to global superstar after her stunning US Open triumph in September and will come under the spotlight again this month at the Australian Open, the first of this year’s Grand Slams. The 19-year-old from Kent, recently crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year, has soared from 343rd at the start of 2021 to 19th in the world rankings and is now under enormous pressure to climb into the top 10.
Hamilton-v-Verstappen Part Two
Sir Lewis Hamilton’s magnanimity in the face of his controversial defeat to Max Verstappen at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has won him an army of new fans. The gut-wrenching manner in which he lost his world crown in the dying moments of a thrilling Formula One season will have even the most casual of motor sport on-lookers glued to their television screens when the two rivals go head-to-head during 2022.