The year 2022 was an eventful one when it comes to sports. Covid played spoilsport in the beginning of the year with a fresh Omicron wave, affecting different parts of the world. Things began to ease as Covid cases across the world reduced and governments lifted restrictions.
From lockdowns and zero-attendance crowds during the start of 2022, fans are now flocking to the stadium in thousands like pre-Covid times, with packed stadiums across all major global sporting events. The impact of Covid-19 is still visible in contemporary sports with vaccination and wearing masks inside the stadiums being mandatory.
Despite limitations, 2022 was an entertaining year for sports, be it the recently concluded FIFA World Cup 2022 or the Commonwealth Games. Here's a look at some of the biggest sporting events of 2022.
FIFA World Cup 2022
The ongoing FIFA World Cup 2022 was the biggest sporting event of the year with the tiny Gulf nation of Qatar being the point of focus. The oil-rich country became the first in the Middle East to host football's apex tournament and the competition was marred by various controversies. Even before the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, protests followed on a global scale over Qatar's human rights violations and the nation's treatment of people belonging to the LGBTQ+ community.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino's speech ahead of the World Cup's commencement also sparked debate when he said that western nations were not in the position to give morality lessons to Qatar, saying, "I think for what we Europeans have been doing the last 3,000 years we should be apologising for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people."
During the course of the ongoing tournament, FIFA banned the sale of alcoholic beer in the stadiums, exempting the ticket holders of the corporate hospitality.
With homosexuality being illegal in Qatar, fans were also prohibited from bringing rainbow flags to the stadiums. Moreover, FIFA also prohibited players from wearing the "OneLove" rainbow armbands during World Cup 2022 matches. Captains of seven European teams, namely England, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Wales earlier decided on wearing the "OneLove" armbands during their FIFA World Cup 2022 matches in Qatar.
The Belgian men's national team was ordered to not wear their away jersey that featured the word "LOVE" printed on it. German players covered their mouths as a sign of protest with the DFB (Germany's football association) saying "Human rights are non-negotiable".
The tournament couldn't have had a more exciting ending with Argentina lifting the trophy under Lionel Messi's leadership, beating France 4-2 on penalties.
ICC T20 World Cup 2022
T20 cricket's biggest tournament took place in Australia after the 2021 edition was shifted to the UAE because of Covid-19. The event started with eight teams fighting for their place in the Super 12 that consists of the seeded teams.
The India-Pakistan match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) recorded 90,293 fans watching the highly intense game live. Virat Kohli's heroics helped team India win the match.
The final took place at the MCG between England and Pakistan with England lifting their second World T20 title in a nail-biting fixture. But the tournament also witnessed some memorable moments outside the pitch. This includes the Pak Bean controversy when Pakistan took on Zimbabwe with the Chevrons scripting a famous victory by one run. The Pak bean debate online became so viral that even the presidents of the two nations got involved.
Another highlight was the India-Pakistan match at the MCG where fans of both nations were united by the popular Coke Studio Pakistan track 'Pasoori'.
But team India fell to England in the semi-finals with the Three Lions winning by 10 wickets at the Adelaide Oval. The final took place at the MCG between England and Pakistan with England winning by five wickets to lift their second World T20 title in a nail-biting fixture.
The XXII Commonwealth Games was held in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8. Team India made its 18th appearance in the CWG and finished at number four in the points table, securing a total of 61 medals with 22 golds, 16 silvers, and 23 bronze.
With the medal tally, India ended their Birmingham Games campaign as the best nation in four sports, namely badminton (six medals), table tennis (seven medals), weightlifting (10 medals), and wrestling (12 medals). India was the second-best nation in boxing, with the Indian contingent bagging a total of seven medals (three gold, one silver, and three bronze).
Cricket made a comeback in the CWG 22 since the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur. This time, women's cricket made its debut in Birmingham, where the T20 format of the game was followed. Therefore, cricket matches at the 2022 Commonwealth Games only featured a Women's T20 internationals (WT20I) tournament. All the matches were played at Birmingham's Edgbaston cricket ground.
India's women's cricket team led by Harmanpreet Kaur made history and won the silver medal after finishing second. India won the gold medal in women's four lawn bowls for the first time with the quartet of Lovely Choubey, Rupa Rani Tirkey, Pinki, and Nayanmoni Saikia scripting their names in the history books.
The first Grand Slam of the year took place in Australia where reputed Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic made headlines. The then-world number one was canceled out of the tournament after being denied entry to Australia for violating Covid-19 norms.
Djokovic, refused to take the vaccine for Covid-19. The Serbian was deported back to Belgrade after the Australian government decided to not keep an exceptional case. Djokovic is the record champion of the Australian Open, winning it nine times (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020, 2021). He was also the defending champion of the Grand Slam but following his refusal to agree with the Covid-19 norms of Australia, he was denied from participating in the tournament.
Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal went on to win the 2022 Australian Open. With the victory, he also broke the record for all-time men's major single titles, winning his 21st Grand Slam.
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