Sports fans are in for a bumper year of competition in 2023 with no less than three World Cups, as well as plenty of other international events to look forward to.
There will be massive events in cricket, football, golf and rugby all taking place across the year including biennial and quadrennial events. There will of course also be the usual yearly high profile contests but here we have picked out six of the biggest events taking place in 2023:
World Baseball Classic - March
We start off with one that many UK based sports fans might not have heard of - the World Baseball Classic. Not to be confused with the World Series, the annual championship series of Major League Baseball, the World Classic is a quadrennial international professional baseball tournament and 2023 will be the fifth iteration.
It has actually been six years since the last tournament, with Covid-19 preventing it taking place in 2021, and the competition is being expanded from 16 teams to 20. Every team who participated in 2017 have qualified automatically. That tournament was won by Japan with the USA coming second and South Korea third.
Among the 20 teams will be, for the first time ever, the United Kingdom who are in a group with the USA and Mexico. The tournament begins on March 8 and will be played across venues in the USA, Japan and Taiwan.
Special Olympics - June
The 16th edition of the Special Olympics takes place in June and will be held, for the first time ever, in Germany with Berlin chosen as the host city. Around 7,000 athletes from approximately 170 countries are set to compete in 24 different sports.
The sports include aquatics, athletics and gymnastics as well as team events such as football, basketball and volleyball among many others. The 2019 games were held in Abu Dhabi and South Korea topped the medal table with a whopping 125 gold amongst their 246 total. The UK finished with 55 medals, 10 of which were gold.
The Special Olympics will last eight days, starting from June 17 to June 25 beginning with the opening ceremony at the Olympiastadion.
FIFA Women’s World Cup - July to August
The Lionesses brought football home this year at the Women’s Euros, but could they go one better and win the big one in 2023? They have never won the trophy before, or reached the finals, and will have four times winners USA to contend with unlike at the Euros.
The Republic of Ireland will also be making their debut at the tournament and are in a group with hosts Australia as well as Nigeria and Canada. England’s group includes Denmark, China and one other team yet to be determined (Senegal, Haiti or Chile).
Australia and New Zealand are the joint hosts of the event, which will be played between July 20 and August 20. The first match will see New Zealand playing Norway at Eden Park while the final will be played at the Stadium Australia in Sydney.
Rugby World Cup - September to October
Rugby Union’s showpiece event will be held in France in 2023 with many tipping the hosts to finally win the trophy for the very first time. Standing in their way will be the traditional Southern Hemisphere powerhouses like New Zealand and South Africa as well as an Ireland side who look like having a real shot at challenging.
England and Wales made the bold call to change head coaches less than a year out from the tournament with England appointing Steve Borthwick in the place of Eddie Jones, while Wales went back to the man who proved so successful over his first spell in charge, the former British & Irish Lions’s head coach Warren Gatland.
Scotland will go in with a squad of talented players in the prime of their careers and who’s to say a resurgent Italy couldn’t be a dark horse? The competition begins on September 8 with a blockbuster opening fixture between hosts France and the All Blacks at the Stade de France.
Ryder Cup - September to October
Europe’s pride will be on the line in Italy after 2021’s bruising defeat where the USA won by the largest margin since 1967. Zach Johnson will captain the holders while the hosts will be skippered by Luke Donald.
Golfers participating in the LIV series are, currently, unavailable for selection but that is unlikely top make much of a difference with the USA having a deep enough pool of talent to choose from even without Dustin Johnson, Bryson Dechambeau and Brooks Koepka who all played in the 2021 edition.
Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland are likely to be the leading names for Team Europe as they look to wrestle the trophy back into their hands. The Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome will host the event between September 29 and October 1.
ICC World Cup - October to November
Originally scheduled to be played between February and March, the Cricket World Cup has been pushed back to later in the year due to the disruption of the qualification schedule due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The 2019 final was one of the most incredible matches in living memory with England beating New Zealand in a Super Over at Lord’s by the barest of margins.
This time around it will be India who are hosting and they will be joined by Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, Pakistan, New Zealand and two other nations. Scotland are still in with a chance of qualifying but will have to come through the play-off qualifiers with the Netherlands, Oman, Zimbabwe and two others. The final dates and schedule are not set but the competition will take place between October and November.