The year 2022 will see some major events in sport and politics.
While many of them are taking place in Asia — mostly international competitions in sports — China, in particular, will host the Winter Olympics and Asian Games, and Qatar will close the year with the FIFA World Cup.
Moreover, the four tennis Grand Slams will see Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal trying to cement their place as the greatest male tennis player of all time.
When it comes to politics, 2022 will see some important elections too. While South Korea and the Philippines will have their respective presidential elections, Hong Kong, which has come to symbolise a sinking ship of democracy in recent years, will go to the polls for the Chief Executive’s post.
Read on for more on some major sporting and political events of 2022
17-30 January: Australian Open
One of the first major sporting events and the first Grand Slam of the year, the 2022 Australian Open seems like a showdown of greats.
World No.1 and 2021 Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty will compete in the women’s singles on her home turf to become the first Australian to do so in 44 years. Her biggest challenge is defending champion Naomi Osaka of Japan, who has won this tournament twice.
Also among the major challengers is Britain’s Emma Raducanu, and the 2022 Australian Open will be the 19-year-old’s first. Raducanu won her maiden Grand Slam at the 2021 US Open.
The men’s singles event will see world No.1 Novak Djokovic, who won three of the four Grand Slams in 2021, including the Australian Open. The 34-year-old Serbian is the biggest draw of the tournament, as he would aim for his 21st major singles title to become the most successful male tennis player in history.
However, he will have to overcome two obstacles in his path — world No.2 Daniil Medvedev, who defeated Djokovic at the 2021 US Open finals, and Spanish great Rafael Nadal, who will compete for his 21st Grand Slam win.
4-20 February: 2022 Winter Olympics
The XXIV Olympic Winter Games will be hosted by Beijing and is the first Winter Olympics to be held in China. However, it has also become one of the most controversial Games in history with major powers announcing a diplomatic boycott.
While activists and some countries have been raising concerns about human rights abuses in China, especially of the Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the US was the first to boycott the Games followed by Britain, Canada and Australia. Japan said it will not send senior officials or Cabinet ministers to China for the Winter Olympics.
A diplomatic boycott means countries will not send an official delegation to the Games, but their athletes will still compete.
With the Games, Beijing has become the first city in the world to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
Some outstanding venues where the 2008 Beijing Olympics had been hosted will be reused for the Winter Games for events, including cross-country skiing, figure skating, ice hockey, speed skating and ski jumping.
The iconic venue, called “Bird’s Nest”, is where the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games will be held. The National Aquatics Centre, popularly known as the Water Cube, will be the venue for the curling competition.
Following the Winter Olympics, Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games from 4 to 13 March.
4 March – 3 April: ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022
Another important sports event, the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 will see some of the world’s best women cricketers from eight cricketing nations battle it out for glory.
Matches will be played in New Zealand. Bay Oval, Tauranga, will be the venue of the first game of the tournament, which is between New Zealand and the West Indies. Defending champion England will begin its campaign on the second day in a match against Australia at Seddon Park, Hamilton.
Interestingly, the Indian team, which is ranked fourth in the ICC Women’s ODI rankings, will go up against Pakistan in their first match.
Australia and England have been the champions since the beginning of the tournament in 1973, with New Zealand the only other team to have won the championship in 2000.
All the eight teams will face each other once. The top four in the league format will move into the knock-out stages. The final will be played at Hagley Oval, Christchurch.
9 March: South Korean presidential election
The South Korean presidential election is one of the most important political events of 2022 in Asia. Since the 1987 constitutional amendment limited the South Korean presidency to a single five-year term, incumbent President Moon Jae-in, like his predecessors, cannot be in the race.
The heavyweights for the polls are Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and Yoon Seok-youl of the People Power Party (PPP), the main Opposition. While Lee is a former governor of Gyeonggi Province, Yoon is the former prosecutor general of South Korea.
Two others in the race are Sim Sang-jung of the Justice Party and Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party, although they are not seen as probable winners. Sim is the only female contender in the 2022 South Korean presidential election.
A November 2021 poll conducted by Gallup Korea revealed Yoon was favoured by 42 percent of the respondents, while Lee had the support of 31 percent. Ahn and Sim were far behind with seven and five percent, respectively.
The last elections, which brought Moon to power, saw a voter turnout of 77 percent, with over 32 million votes cast. Moon got just over 13 million votes, which was close to 50 percent more than his runner-up, Hong Joon-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party.
27 March: Hong Kong Chief Executive election
The Hong Kong Chief Executive election might be another noteworthy election in Asia for many reasons. One of them is, it will be held when the Special Administrative Region (SAR) celebrates its 25th anniversary of Handover to China from British rule.
The other reason is the “survival of democracy.” In the five years since incumbent Chief Executive Carrie Lam came to power in 2017, Hong Kong witnessed a drastic drop in human rights and democratic freedoms. Massive protests took place after a controversial extradition bill that would have given Beijing greater authority to punish dissidents in Hong Kong.
China then introduced the National Security Law (NSL) in June 2020 to curb the protests. Over 100 were arrested and around 60 were charged in the year after the law came into force. The first sentencing under the law happened in July 2021, when a protester was jailed for nine years.
In June, Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy newspaper, shut down after its offices were raided, assets frozen and executives detained under the controversial law. Its owner Jimmy Lai was already jailed for participating in the pro-democracy protests. Many pro-democratic voices have since been exiled.
In December 2021, candidates loyal to Beijing dominated Hong Kong’s legislative elections — the first since China amended the SAR’s election laws. The amendment reduced the number of directly elected lawmakers to 20 from 35 and increased the legislature to 90 from 70. Critics believe that this ensured that only pro-Beijing “patriots” control Hong Kong’s politics.
The elections witnessed a voter turnout of just 30.2 percent, which was the lowest since Hong Kong’s handover. Lam would run for a second term for chief executive in the 2022 elections.
10 April: French presidential election
Another significant event, the 2022 French presidential election will be held in two rounds — the first on 10 April and the second on 24 April, if no one wins a majority in the first round.
It is unclear if incumbent President Emmanuel Macron, who came to power in 2017, will contest. Experts, however, believe he will. Nearly all opinion polls indicate that Macron will be victorious should he contest, but elections in France can baffle psephologists.
There are several names in the fray for the top job in France, but the strongest contender appears to be Valérie Pécresse of the conservative Les Républicains (LR) party. In December, the Ipsos/Sopra Steria poll revealed Pécresse could meet Macron in the second round of voting.
Others in the running include, far-right Rassemblement National party leader Marine Le Pen, Green party leader Yannick Jadot, far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Socialist party’s Anne Hidalgo, and far-right Eric Zemmour.
9 May: Philippines general election
The Philippines’ constitution limits presidential terms to one; thus incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte cannot contest in the upcoming polls. He also decided not to contest for a Senator’s seat in the elections.
Among those contesting are Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP). He is the son of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. An opinion poll conducted by Pulse Asia in early December showed him leading the race. His running mate is Duterte’s daughter Sara, who herself is leading in the vice presidential race — elections for which are held separately.
Other strong candidates in the elections are incumbent vice president Leni Robredo, Manila’s mayor Isko Moreno and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, who retired from the sport after announcing his candidacy in 2021.
22 May – 5 June: French Open
Barbora Krejčíková of the Czech Republic won her maiden Grand Slam when she beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia in the women’s singles final at the 2021 French Open; she hopes to repeat her superlative performance at the 2022 tournament.
In the men’s singles 2021, Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece to become the first male player in the Open Era to win all four Grand Slams twice. While ‘Djoker’, whose form seems to be only getting better, Nadal continues to be the greatest on clay court.
Unlike other majors he had to skip for various reasons, the Spaniard has never missed playing at the French Open since winning it in his 2005 debut match. He has also never lost the French Open after reaching the finals.
Nadal won the tournament four consecutive times, starting 2017, and has 13 French Open titles to his name till 2020. He lost in the semi-final in 2021 to Djokovic.
27 June – 10 July: The Wimbledon
For the first time in its history, Wimbledon will not have a Middle Sunday — a traditional day off between the first and second weeks of the tournament. This brings 2022 Wimbledon in line with the other three Grand Slams.
The tournament will also see a return of the queue — when fans eager to secure same-day tickets pitch tents outside the venue. It is a practice that was suspended because of the pandemic in 2020.
At the 2021 edition, Djokovic created history by becoming the third male player after Roger Federer and Nadal to win 20 Grand Slams. In case he cannot win his 21st title at either of the first two majors, Djokovic would rely on his excellent record on the grass court to secure the coveted win.
On the other hand, Ashleigh Barty will try to defend her championship victory from 2021 at the 2022 edition of the tournament.
28 July – 8 August: 2022 Commonwealth Games
Birmingham, England, will play host to the XXII Commonwealth Games, with 286 sessions across 19 sports.
For the first time in its history, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games will have more medal events for women than men. One of them is the Women’s T20 in cricket, which will make its debut at the 2022 Games. On the other hand, men’s cricket has been part of the Commonwealth Games since 1998.
It must be noted that the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has allowed athletes to bring Pride flags to the podium.
There are 72 countries that are part of the CGF.
29 August – 11 September: US Open
Russian star and world No.2 Daniil Medvedev was the only player to break the rampaging march of Djokovic 2021r when he defeated the Serbian to win the US Open.
But the attention in the US Open will be on defending champion Emma Raducanu, who took the world by storm by becoming one of the youngest winners of a Grand Slam tournament in 2021. Raducanu is currently the youngest of the top 20 players on the WTA list. All eyes are also on tennis icon Serena Williams, who announced her retirement in August 2022 and has hinted that the 2022 US Open will be her last.
10-25 September: 2022 Asian Games
Officially known as the XIX Asiad, the mega sporting event will be held in Hangzhou, China. There will be 40 sports with 482 events across 61 disciplines.
For the first time, players from Australia and other Oceania countries will participate in Asian Games. The decision was made by the Olympic Council of Asia. The players will, however, be able to participate in only those sports which qualify for the 2024 Olympics through Asia. These include basketball, association football, volleyball and fencing.
China has been the leader in the medals tally since the 1982 Asian Games.
The Asian Games will be followed by the 2022 Asian Para Games, officially the IV Asian Para Games, from 9 to 15 October at Hangzhou.
12 November – 18 December: 2022 FIFA World Cup
The biggest sporting event of 2022 will be held in Qatar. It is the first FIFA World Cup to take place in the Middle East and Arab world. The opening match will be played at the Al Bayt Stadium, which was inaugurated in 2021.
As in some of the previous editions, 32 football teams will participate in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. France, the defending champions, qualified for the tournament in 2021. Others who qualified by 2021 include Argentina, Brazil, England, Germany and Spain — all of whom are previous FIFA World Cup winners.
Qatar qualified as the host country.
Hero and Featured images: Courtesy of FIFA World Cup/@FIFAWorldCup/Twitter