The Olympics wasn’t the only major sports event to be postponed last summer. Many of the traditional sporting highlights either got cancelled or moved around, and it made for some odd viewing. The Tour de France, for example, got underway in September instead of its typical May slot, and the US Masters golf had to deal with cool and dark November evenings instead of the usual spring sunshine. But for many sports fans, there was a gap in the calendar as their favourite events were taken away from them.
Nevertheless, it feels like we will be making up for lost time this summer, with a jam-packed schedule ready to satisfy sports fans. In the UK, in particular, the month of July looks like one of the most exciting feasts of sport in modern history. Here are five reasons you should get excited:
Euro 2020 Final – 11th July
Wembley Stadium will host the Euro 2020* Final on the 11th July, as well as the two Semi-Finals. Wales, Scotland and England are all involved in the competition, with the latter considered the 5/1 favourites with the sports betting online at 888sport. But even if England don’t make the Final, there is sure to be a carnival atmosphere as the first major international soccer tournament has its climax in the UK since Euro 96.
UEFA has received a lot of criticism for its decision to host Euro 2020 in multiple countries. Instead of having one host nation, games will be played in cities as far apart as Dublin, Ireland and Baku, Azerbaijan. Critics have claimed this gives a sense of disconnect to the tournament. The next European Championships (2024) will return to the single country format, with Germany as host nation. Nevertheless, Wembley will hold six games this summer – England’s three group games, as well as the two Semi-Finals and Final. So, there will be a sense of occasion in London. Glasgow, too, will host three group games and one knockout fixture.
*Despite taking place in 2021, UEFA insists on calling the tournament Euro 2020 for sponsorship reasons.
Wimbledon Returns – 28th June – 11th July
The men’s Wimbledon Final will be held the same day as the Euro 2020 Final, 11th July. Few sports competitions wear their history as openly as the All-England Club Championships, so it was painful for many to see it removed from the schedule last year. But there are more reasons than that to welcome it back this year, as it could be the last time we see legends like Serena Williams and Roger Federer grace the grass of Centre Court.
Of course, Wimbledon is also a venue to forge new champions and tell new stories. The likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be the favourites in the men’s tournament, but there is a new generation of young players coming through to challenge the old guard.
British hopes, so often led by Andy Murray in the past, will be carried by Dan Evans, who scored a rare victory over Novak Djokovic recently. In the women’s tournament, Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty will be tipped to win, but the home crowd will reserve the loudest cheers for Johanna Konta.
The Open – 15th-18th July
Another history-laden event that was postponed last summer returns, with the 149th Open taking place at Royal St George’s Golf Course. Darren Clarke was the last winner of the Open when it was previously held at the stunning Royal St George’s ten years ago, and it’s a fair assumption that fellow Northern Irishman, Rory McIlroy, will have all eyes upon him this time around. English hopes lie with players like Tommy Fleetwood and a seemingly rejuvenated Lee Westwood.
The tournament will, however, likely miss the presence of Tiger Woods. The 15-time Major winner was involved in a car crash in February, and it remains to be seen whether he will be able to play again; certainly, his participation at elite level is in doubt. Nevertheless, as we saw in the recent Masters, golf can still deliver great drama without the man perhaps considered its greatest ever player.
The British Grand Prix – 18th July
The British Grand Prix went ahead last year – twice, in fact. However, fans will be glued to the action on the Silverstone track to see if British hero Lewis Hamilton can see out his quest to become an eight-time F1 World Champion. The Formula One season has just got underway, and it seems to be pointing to a fascinating battle between Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Can Hamilton get a win on his home turf to tighten his grip on the championship? Hamilton has won a ridiculous seven times at Silverstone down the years, so you wouldn’t bet against him getting the eighth win as he goes for that incredible eighth World Championship.
Indeed, most thought that Hamilton would run away with the F1 title this year – but that certainly hasn’t been the case since the new season got underway. There has been plenty of drama in F1 over the last few years and everyone has been impressed with Hamilton’s feats. However, a proper battle for the title has been sorely lacking. That could give some extra flavour to the British Grand Prix this summer.
The Olympics – 23rd July – 8th August
Alright, so the Olympics in Tokyo is about as far away from the UK as you can get. However, the British have grown to love the Olympics over the years, a fact bolstered by hosting in 2012 and the continued success of Team GB. Cycling and rowing have been the most fruitful sports for British medal hopes, but the UK has stars in boxing, athletics, martial arts and everything else in between who could make it a golden summer for British sport.
The biggest hopes come with stars like Dina Asher-Smith, who is tipped to win gold in the 200m. Elsewhere, Max Whitlock could take gold on the pommel horse in the gymnastics, and watch out for Lauren Price in middleweight boxing. Above all, Jade Jones is expected to continue her dominance in Taekwondo. But the good thing about the Olympics is that it will throw up plenty of surprise victories, with plenty of new heroes emerging for Team GB.