24 for 2024: the unmissable sporting events over the next 12 months | Sport

24 for 2024: the unmissable sporting events over the next 12 months | Sport

1) Africa Cup of Nations 13 January-11 February

The 34th edition of Africa’s biggest sporting event was meant to be held in Ivory Coast between June and July 2023 but was moved after somebody realised it rains a lot in the country at that time of the year. So it takes place at the start of 2024 instead and for Mohamed Salah the target is redemption having been part of the Egypt team that suffered the pain of penalty shootout defeat to Senegal in the 2022 final. A host of other big names will also be at the tournament, including André Onana (Cameroon), Achraf Hakimi (Morocco) and Victor Osimhen (Nigeria).

2) Australian Open 14 January-28 January

Melbourne could be the scene of tennis history given Novak Djokovic will arrive there looking to win a 25th grand slam title, taking him past Australia’s Margaret Court as the single most successful player tennis has seen. Few would bet against the world No 1 achieving his ambition at a tournament where Rafael Nadal is set to feature having been sidelined for 12 months with a hip injury. In the women’s draw, Aryna Sabalenka will be seeking to retain the title she won with a show of power, determination and class against Elena Rybakina in the 2023 final.

Aryna Sabalenka will be keen to retain the Australian Open title. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

3) Men’s & Women’s Six Nations 2 February-16 March, 23 March-27 April

Four months after suffering various forms of heartbreak at the Rugby World Cup, the northern hemisphere’s biggest and best gather to compete for the Six Nations. Grand slam winners Ireland travel to Marseille for a mouth-watering opening game while England, minus captain Owen Farrell, head to Rome a day later, when Wales and Scotland will also do battle in Cardiff. A week after the men are done the women get going, and for England that means building on the glory of 2023, when they sealed the grand slam in front of 58,498 spectators at Twickenham, a record crowd for a women’s game.

4) Super Bowl LVIII 11 February

The Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada hosts the 58th edition of American Football’s showpiece event. The Kansas City Chiefs, led by Andy Reid and armed with Patrick Mahomes, will be seeking to make it four Super Bowl appearances in the past five years and, more importantly, retain the trophy they won with a thrilling 38-35 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Arizona last time out. All eyes will also, of course, be on the halftime show, which in 2024 comes courtesy of Usher. “Yeah!” as his fans no doubt screamed upon hearing the news.

5) Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk 17 February

A case of better late than never in regards to the fight everybody has wanted to see and thought they were finally going to get just before Christmas. It didn’t happen, however, after Fury suffered the shock and embarrassment of requiring a split decision verdict to overcome the UFC’s Francis Ngannou in Riyadh in October. A period of regrouping was required and Fury will go again in the Saudi Arabian capital against arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, with both men seeking to become boxing’s first undisputed heavyweight champion since 1999. The location is a shame; the contest should be a cracker.

Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk after the fight between Fury and Francis Ngannou at Boulevard Hall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk facing off after Fury’s controversial victory against Francis Ngannou. Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

6) Formula One World Championship 2 March-8 December

The new Formula One season will be one of significant change. Firstly, the calendar stretches to a record 24 races, the maximum number the sport believes is feasible for both teams and personnel, and then there is the opening two races, in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, being held on back-to-back Saturdays. F1 has also confirmed there will be six sprint races – in China, Miami, Austria, Austin, Brazil and Qatar. Once the action gets going it is possible little will change: Max Verstappen and Red Bull were imperious in 2023 and everything points to that being the case again in 2024.

7) The Masters 11 April-14 April

John Rahm will arrive in Augusta seeking to retain the title he won on an enthralling final day in 2023. The Spaniard, competing at his first major since his controversial switch to LIV Golf, should be full of belief given he was also part of the European team that regained the Ryder Cup in Rome a few months ago, which should be the case, too, for Rory McIlroy as he seeks to win a first major in a decade. From a US perspective, world No 1 Scottie Scheffler is sure to mount a strong challenge, while there could also be the intriguing prospect of Tiger Woods making a return to Masters action.

8) England Women v Pakistan Women Twenty20 series 11 May-19 May

It perhaps says something about the growth of English women’s cricket that Heather Knight’s white-ball side have been chosen to open the international summer with a three-match Twenty20 series against Pakistan. The fixtures take place at Edgbaston, Northampton and Headingley. There follows a three-match one-day series against the same opponents before three ODIs and five T20s are played against New Zealand. “Next summer’s schedule will see England Women play at more venues and allow more people to see their heroes in action,” said England and Wales chief executive, Richard Gould.

Heather Knight trains before the 1st T20 match between India and England at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai
Heather Knight will captain England against Pakistan in the spring. Photograph: Pankaj Nangia/ECB/Getty Images

9) Women’s Champions League final 25 May

The San Mamés stadium in Bilbao hosts the showpiece event of women’s club football in Europe and few would complain if it proved as exciting as the 2023 final, when Barcelona come from two goals down at half-time to beat Wolfsburg 3-2 in Eindhoven. English hopes rest with Chelsea following Arsenal’s shock defeat to Paris FC in the first round of qualifying and what would be the club’s first Women’s Champions League triumph would also represent a fitting way for Emma Hayes to sign off as manager prior to her move to the United States.

10) Men’s Champions League final 1 June

Can Manchester City reach Wembley and retain the crown that completed last season’s treble? Current form suggests possibly not, but City tend to get stronger in the new year and will be delighted to have once again been handed a very kind last-16 draw. Pep Guardiola’s men take on FC Copenhagen in the next round, while Arsenal, seeking to win a first Champions League title, face Porto. Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are among the other contenders in a competition being contested in its current format for a final time before next year’s less-than-popular switch to the so-called “Swiss model”.

11) Men’s Twenty20 World Cup 4 June-30 June

The United States of America hosts a cricket World Cup for the first time. They do so alongside the West Indies in a move designed to extend the game beyond its traditional borders and, as such, it will be intriguing to see how cities such as Dallas and New York take to the event. This World Cup will also be bigger than ever before given the involvement of 20 teams, and for England the aim is to avoid the horrors of the recent 50-over tournament in India and make a decent fist of retaining their 20-over crown.

12) Euro 2024 14 June-14 July

Germany hosts a major men’s football tournament for the first time since the 2006 World Cup and the hope for all concerned is that this one is as good as that one. It is certainly open in regards to who will be crowned champions at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on 14 July, with England very much a serious contender. Scotland, having qualified for a second successive Euros, face the hosts in the opening game while Wales require a playoff to make the finals. Should they prevail, Robert Page’s men will be in the same group as France and Netherlands.

Scott McTominay celebrates after scoring during the Euro 2024 qualifying round group A match between Scotland and Spain at Hampden Park in Glasgow
Scott McTominay was Scotland’s top scorer during qualifiers, netting seven goals including two against Spain. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt/AMA/Getty Images

13) Royal Ascot 18 June-22 June

Auguste Rodin had a distinctly hit-and-miss three-year-old career but he achieved something that Aidan O’Brien’s last three Derby winners all failed to do when he added a subsequent Group One success to his Epsom victory and finished with a flourish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He is the best Ballydoyle Derby winner to stay in training since High Chaparral in 2002-03, and there was even talk of running him in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Even if that proves wide of the mark he will be a fixture in the big all-aged events in 2024, starting with the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

14) Tour de France & Tour de France Femmes 29 June-21 July, 12 August-18 August

The 111th edition of cycling’s most prestigious event will be one of firsts, namely the staging of the Grand Départ in Italy (in Florence, to be precise) and the end of the race taking place in Nice, as opposed to Paris. Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard will be seeking to win a third successive title while Mark Cavendish aims to break the record of 34 Tour stage wins he shares with Eddy Merckx having delayed his plans to retire from the sport. The third edition of the Tour de France Femmes, meanwhile, will commence in Rotterdam and has been delayed due to the Olympics.

Demi Vollering celebrates at the finish line as the overall winner of the 2nd Tour de France Femmes in Pau.
An emotional Demi Vollering celebrates winning the second Tour de France Femmes in Pau. Photograph: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

15) Wimbledon 1 July-14 July

The 2024 Championships will have to go some way to match the drama of the 2023 edition given it climaxed with Marketa Vondrousova becoming the first unseeded player to win the women’s singles title via victory over Ons Jabeur and then, 24 hours later, Carlos Alcaraz securing his second grand slam title with victory over Novak Djokovic in an epic men’s final. The ingredients should be there for more of the same, with a host of British players primed to go deep into the second week of the tournament, most notably Katie Boulter and Cameron Norrie.

16) England Men v West Indies Men Test Series 10 July-30 July

England’s return to red-ball action on home soil for the first time since the Ashes comes against opponents who last visited the country in the summer of 2020. It was at the height of the pandemic and, as such, there were no crowds, leading to a somewhat sterile series. The atmosphere will be better this time around as the teams do battle at Lord’s, Trent Bridge and Edgbaston, with the hosts sure to stick to their Bazball principles but without Stuart Broad following his retirement from the sport. After facing West Indies, England play three Tests against Sri Lanka, at Old Trafford, Lord’s and the Oval.

17) The Open 18 July-21 July

Royal Troon hosts the Open for the first time since 2016, when Henrik Stenson landed the Claret Jug following an enthralling final-round tussle with Phil Mickelson. The hope is for more of that and less of what took place in 2023, when Brian Harman won the Championship at a canter on a rain-lashed last day at Royal Liverpool. Sizzling-hot entertainment, it was not. Those who love a bit of sentiment will be pleased to know Colin Montgomerie plans on competing at a course that is a stone’s throw from where he grew up. “This is where I started playing,” he said. “This is home.”

Brian Harman lifts the Claret Jug after winning the 151st Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake
Brian Harman won the 151st Open on a gloomy day. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

18) Olympics 26 July-11 August

“We want a huge party,” declared Étienne Thobois, chief executive of the Paris 2024 organising committee, and the first Olympics to be held in Europe since London 2012 is certainly set to get off to a spectacular start given the plan for the opening ceremony is for competing athletes to travel along the Seine in a huge flotilla. Once on dry land they will take part in the usual sports plus four new ones, including breakdancing and skateboarding. All in all it should be quite the Games, with British hopes for glory, on the Stade de France track at least, resting with the likes of Keely Hodgkinson, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Zharnel Hughes.

19) Paralympics 28 August-8 September

As was the case in Tokyo three years earlier, there will be 22 sports at the Paris Paralympics, with 4,400 athletes set to be involved across 11 days of competition. Wheelchair rugby gets things going on day one, with Great Britain looking to defend the gold medal they won with a 54-49 victory over the United States at the Yoyogi National Stadium in late August 2021, one of 124 medals, 41 of which were gold, ParalympicsGB secured in Japan. The closing weekend, meanwhile, includes wheelchair fencing under the dome of the Grand Palais.

Aaron Phipps and Ryan Cowling of Team GB celebrate after defeating the United States during the gold medal wheelchair rugby match on day 5 of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games at Yoyogi National Stadium
Aaron Phipps and Ryan Cowling of Team GB celebrate after winning gold at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. Photograph: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

20) Women’s Twenty20 World Cup September-October

Bangladesh hosts the ninth edition of the women’s Twenty20 World Cup and could be where Australia clinch the trophy for a seventh time. They will certainly be firm favourites to do so, albeit the retirement of Meg Lanning ninth months after leading her country to their sixth title in South Africa provides their rivals with hope. England will arrive at the tournament having competed in a decent run of T20 fixtures, including three in India. In total, 10 teams will be at the World Cup, two of which will come through a global qualifier that takes place in early 2024.

21) Solheim Cup 10 September-15 September

No, your eyes are not deceiving you – the Solheim Cup returns 12 months after it was staged at Finca Cortesín, the intention from organisers being to permanently shift the event to even-number years in order to avoid a clash with the Ryder Cup. That process begins at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia, where Europe will be aiming to lift the trophy for a fourth time in succession. Again they will be captained by Suzann Pettersen, with the US again being led by Stacy Lewis. “It’s such an honour to be asked to captain Team Europe again,” said Pettersen, a 21-time tournament winner.

22) Super League Grand Final 12 October

Just when it appeared that St Helens’ grip on Super League supremacy was unbreakable, along came Wigan Warriors to win the Grand Final for the first time in five years. Theirs was a commanding display against Catalan Dragons at Old Trafford in October and the aim for Matt Peet’s men going into the new season will be getting back to the showpiece occasion in 2024. Speaking of showpiece occasions, Wigan host the NRL champions, Penrith Panthers, in the World Club Challenge on 24 February. It is a repeat of the 1991 clash at Anfield, which Wigan won 21-4.

Wigan Warriors celebrate after beating Catalan Dragons to win their sixth Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford in Manchester
Wigan Warriors celebrate after beating Catalan Dragons to win their sixth Super League Grand Final. Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/Shutterstock

23) Cycling World Championships 16 October-20 October

The Ballerup Super Arena hosts this event for a third time, having also done so in 2002 and 2010, meaning it should proceed smoothly and successfully. Organisers are confident that will be the case – “Everything is proceeding according to plan” declared project coordinator, Andreas Juul Ingvartsen, in October – with day one action kicking off with qualifying in the women’s and men’s team pursuit. Great Britain will travel to Denmark looking to build on the table-topping 56 medals, 23 of which were gold, they secured at the 2023 Championships in Glasgow.

24) Weightlifting World Championships November-December

Bahrain hosts weightlifting’s premier competition for the first time and the excitement of doing so is tangible among organisers. “I thank the International Weightlifting Federation for their trust and plan on hosting a fantastic event that further contributes to the development of our beloved sport,” said Eshaq Ebrahim Eshaq, president of the Bahrain Weightlifting Federation. Athletes will compete across 20 weight categories – 10 for men, 10 for women – with China the country to beat having won 20 gold medals at the 2023 championships in Riyadh, 15 more than second-place Thailand.

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