When the year is an odd number, most sports fans take that to mean they will have to be contented with their annual sporting events with no World Cup or Olympics to provide the year’s tentpole event. Of course, there will be the Super Bowl, Champions League, Wimbledon, Tour de France, and so much more. However, there are plenty of events to look forward to in 2023 that don’t take place every year. Here is our guide of the best to look out for:
15. Handball World Championship
Venues: Poland/ Sweden (January 11th-29th)
The Handball Word Championships return to Europe with Poland and Sweden co-hosting the bi-annual event. Denmark will be looking to make it three consecutive world titles. 2019 hosts Egypt are back as are the USA, who missed the Covid-impacted 2021 tournament. The European teams, however, are expected to dominate with France and Germany amongst the contenders. European Champions Sweden look to be favorites to raise the trophy on home soil.
14. FIFA Under 20 World Cup
Venue: Indonesia (May 20th-June 11th)
With the Qatar World Cup in the books and the major confederation tournaments taking place in 2024, youth football will take centerstage in ’23 with the Under 17 and Under 20 World Cup’s and Euro U-21s. The U-20 World Cup has previously starred the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Erling Haaland and Paul Pogba. This time, Indonesia plays host to the stars of the future. Qualification is still to be decided in South America, Asia and Africa, but former winners England and France will be amongst the 24 finalists, as will Italy and the USA. After Covid forced the scrapping of the 2021 event, this will offer an intriguing glimpse into football’s future.
13. World Baseball Classic
Venues: Japan, Taiwan, USA (March 8th-21st)
Baseball goes global in March with the World Baseball Classic. Sanctioned by the MLB, the event will feature 20 nations and will span three countries with Miami hosting the final. It has been six years since the last event, which saw the US win their first title. Japan remain the most successful nation at the Classic with two titles, but the growing global interest in the sport will see Great Britain and Czech Republic make their tournament debuts.
12. World Beach Games
Venue: Bali (August 5th-12th)
The second running of the World Beach Games takes place in Bali in August. A total of 36 events made up the inaugural event in 2019, with Spain leading the medal table with seven golds. Sailing, Beach Football, 3-on-3 Basketball, Open Water Swimming and Volleyball are amongst the sports on show. Almost 100 nations are expected to participate in an increasingly popular event that will signpost the way for some to Olympic glory in Paris.
11. Men’s Hockey World Cup
Venue: India (January 13th-29th)
The Field Hockey World Cup returns for the first time since 2018 with India again the hosts. Five years ago, Belgium emerged victorious with a 3-2 penalty shootout win over arch rivals Netherlands. Belgium consolidated their place as the world’s best side by beating Australia to capture Olympic Gold in Tokyo. The hosts alongside Netherlands, Argentina, Australia and England will lead the pack of those looking to dethrone the Belgians.
10. Solheim Cup
Venue: Malaga (September 22nd-24th)
Golf heads to Malaga in September for the 18th Solheim Cup. A competition initially dominated by the US has increasingly swung towards Europe, who have won four of the last six, including a tense 15-13 win at Ohio’s Inverness Club last time around. Both teams are under new captains with Suzann Pettersen leading Europe and Stacy Lewis leading the US. Team USA have the edge in world rankings with top ten players Nelly Korda and Lexi Thompson both set to play.
9. UEFA Nations League Finals
Venue: Netherlands (June 14th-18th)
There is one senior men’s tournament this year, with UEFA desperately hoping the clear schedule will bring attention to the much-maligned Nations League Finals. Netherlands, Croatia, Spain and Italy won their League A divisions and make up the final four, who will do battle to make the final in Rotterdam. After an exhausting World Cup interrupted season and two of the finalists under new management, it means this will be a sign post on the road to Euro ’24. It could also be the last hurrah for Croatia legend Luka Modric: Could he finally get his hands on some silverware for his nation?
8. UCI Cycling World Championships
Venue: Scotland (August 3rd-13th)
The Inaugural Cycling World Championships will launch this summer in Glasgow. The new event will include track cycling, road racing, BMX, Mountain Biking and Para-cycling. Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy is the ambassador for the event taking place in his home country and the huge appetite for competitive cycling in the UK should give the new event a huge boost. With the Olympics only a year away, the World Championships will provide a marker for what we can expect at Paris ’24.
7. World Aquatic Championships
Venue: Fukuoka (July 14th-30th)
Another event setting an Olympic benchmark will be the World Aquatic Championships. Originally slated for 2021, the event was pushed back by the pandemic and knock-on delay to the Tokyo Olympics. USA and China have traditionally dominated the medal table, but Italy have emerged in recent years as a major player. Beside the swimming, diving, open water swimming and water polo are amongst the sports on offer. After the frustration of seeing their Olympics played out in empty venues due to Covid, expect a passionate home crowd to raise the roof in Fukuoka.
6. IAAF World Championships
Venue: Budapest (August 19th-2th)
The biggest Olympic signposting event will be the Athletics World Championships taking place in Budapest. The USA reestablished themselves as top dogs in the men’s blue riband sprint events, but Jamaica are continuing the Usain Bolt legacy by dominating the women’s sprint events. Kenya and Uganda’s place at the top of middle and long distance running is being challenged by Britain’s Jake Wightman and Norway’s Olympic hero Jakob Ingebrigtsen. Expect world records to go in the 48-event competition.
5. The Ashes
Venue: England (June 16th-July 31st)
Test Cricket offers some major series in 2023, but the biggest of the them all returns this summer, as Australia travel to England to defend The Ashes. Australia have kept the urn for three straight series, so just like 2019, a draw in the five match series will be enough for Australia. On that occasion the majestic batting of Steve Smith proved decisive, despite the heroics of Ben Stokes at Headingley. Australia sit atop the Test Rankings and will be confident Pat Cummins can lead them to a first outright series victory in England since 2001. England, however, have been revitalized under the guidance of Brendan McCullum and captaincy of Stokes. The Ashes always deliver high drama and emotion when the series concludes at The Oval. Expect plenty of that for the likely farewell of England’s record breaking paceman Jimmy Anderson.
4. Ryder Cup
Venue: Rome (September 29th-October 1st)
Golf’s most popular team event returns to Europe at Rome’s Marco Simone Club. Luke Donald takes charge of a Europe team smarting from a record 19-9 defeat at Whistling Straits. Zack Johnson takes charge of a star-studded US team looking to win away from home for the first time since 1993. The ongoing controversy of LIV golf will cast a shadow across the event, but the return to form of Rory McIlroy will boost Europe and with nine of the world’s top ten in play, this promises to be a thriller.
3. FIFA Women’s World Cup
Venues: Australia, New Zealand (July 20th-August 20th)
The Women’s World Cup is growing in popularity with every tournament and 2023 promises to be the biggest yet. Holders and four-time champions in the USA will be favorites. However, the field is becoming increasingly competitive with co-hosts Australia looking a serious contender. There is Canada, who took down the US on their way to Olympic Gold. England also just won their first European Championships under the guidance of Sarina Wiegman. Then there are former champions Germany and Olympic Silver Medalists Sweden. The World Cup will be kicked off by New Zealand at Eden Park, with the final a month later at Stadium Australia.
2. Cricket World Cup
Venue: India (October- November)
White ball cricket’s showpiece event is back with India hosting the World Cup. Final qualifiers will take place in the summer with former champions the West Indies and Sri Lanka amongst those vying for the final two spots in the ten team field. There are no such worries for white ball kings England, who will be favorites to retain the title. Although, the involvement of 2019 hero Ben Stokes isn’t certain. Hosts India are another major contender, as are five-time winners Australia. Double runners-up New Zealand and T-20 World Cup runners-up Pakistan will also be serious contenders. Can 2023 deliver the super-over finish of the nail-biting 2019 final?
1. Rugby World Cup
Venue: France (September 8th-October 28th)
Rugby Union’s premier event returns to Europe with France hosting the 2023 World Cup. The hosts will be desperate to finally get their hands on the Webb-Ellis Cup after losing the final on three occasions. The opening fixture at the Stade De France should be a thriller with the hosts taking on perennial favorites New Zealand. Defending champions South Africa will be formidable and will face an early challenge in the form of No. 1 Ireland; a team with the bad habit of peaking between tournaments. A revitalized Australia will be another contender whileWales will be hoping for a revival under the returning Warren Gatland, as will England under new coach Steve Borthwick. The Rugby World Cup is becoming evermore competitive and 2023 promises to be the most open yet.