Nine big tournaments to watch in 2023
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Nine big tournaments to watch in 2023

Thai athletes will compete in at least three major international events this year

Thai taekwondo star Panipak Wongpattanakit, right, will be looking for her second Asian Games gold medal at Hangzhou. (Photo: AFP)
Thai taekwondo star Panipak Wongpattanakit, right, will be looking for her second Asian Games gold medal at Hangzhou. (Photo: AFP)

World Cups in cricket, rugby union and women's football while world titles in swimming and athletics are up for grabs in 2023.

Asian Games

  • Where: Hangzhou, China
  • When: Sept 23-Oct 8

The 19th Asian Games were originally scheduled to take place last year but were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Hangzhou will be the third Chinese city to host the quadrennial event, after Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010. Thailand were 12th in the medals standings at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia with 11 gold, 16 silver and 46 bronze medals. China are hot favourites to be crowned overall champions again after winning 132 gold medals in the previous tournament. Olympic taekwondo champion Panipak Wongpattanakit is one of Thailand's best hopes in Hangzhou as she will be chasing her second Asian Games gold medal in the 49kg division.

SEA Games

  • Where: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • When: May 5-17

The 32nd SEA Games will be held in Phnom Penh with the Morodok Techo National Stadium being the main venue. It will be the first SEA Games in Cambodia. There will be 40 sports at the 32nd edition of the biennial tournament including finswimming, Ok Chakktrong (Khmer chess), Kun Khmer (Cambodian martial art) and cricket. Thailand finished second overall at the 31st Games in Vietnam last year with 92 gold medals, behind the hosts who claimed 205 golds. Thai teenage sprinter Puripol Boonson will defend his 100m and 200m titles.

Sprinter Puripol Boonson of Thailand will defend his 100m and 200m titles at the SEA Games in Cambodia. (Photo: AFP)

Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games

  • Where: Thailand
  • When: Nov 17-26

The 6th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games will be held in Bangkok and Chon Buri. Originally scheduled to take place in May 2021, the unpopular event has been postponed twice due to Covid. It will have the highest number of sports -- 30 in total -- in the history of the Games. It will be the first edition to feature badminton, baseball5, BMX cycling, cheerleading, floorball, indoor rowing, netball, shooting and volleyball.

Volleyball Nations League

  • Where: Various locations
  • When: May 30-July 16

Thailand will host one of the pools of the FIVB Volleyball Women's Nations League at Bangkok's Indoor Stadium from June 27-July 2. The Bangkok leg will feature eight teams -- Thailand, defending champions Italy, Brazil, Croatia, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands and Turkey. Thailand, led by captain Pornpun Gerdpard, finished eighth in the 16-team Nations League last year -- their best result in the event.

Thailand players pose after a match in the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women's Nations League. 

Cricket World Cup

  • Where: India
  • When: October-November (dates to be decided)

The 13th edition of the global 50-over showpiece will see England defend the title they won in thrilling fashion on home ground in 2019. Despite the event stretching over seven weeks and featuring 48 games, only 10 teams are taking part. The top seven countries from the Super League plus hosts India will make it through as well as two teams from a qualifying tournament to be held in Zimbabwe in June/July. There is, however, already controversy with former Pakistan Cricket Board chief Ramiz Raja having hinted his country could boycott the World Cup if India refuse to play the Asia Cup scheduled for Pakistan also in 2023.

England players celebrate during a match at the 2019 Cricket World Cup. (Photo: AFP)

Rugby World Cup

  • Where: France
  • When: Sept 8-Oct 28

All eyes will be on captain Antoine Dupont as he leads strong favourites France into a home World Cup featuring 20 nations playing at nine venues. The opening game pitches France against New Zealand in what promises to be a thrilling start. Reigning champions South Africa are drawn in the same pool as Ireland, while Wales are in a pool alongside Australia, Georgia and Fiji, the first two of which they lost to in the Autumn Nations Series. England go into the tournament in a state of flux having axed coach Eddie Jones in favour of Steve Borthwick.

France captain Antoine Dupont scores a try during the 2022 Six Nations rugby event. (Photo: AFP)

Fifa Women's World Cup

  • Where: Australia and New Zealand
  • When: July 20-Aug 20

The all-conquering United States women's national team face stiff competition from a series of emerging European contenders for the World Cup. The Americans have won four of the eight previous editions of the tournament, including the last two, but have been beaten by Germany, England and Spain this year. England are looking to back up their victory on home soil at Euro 2022, while co-hosts Australia will be hoping Chelsea star Sam Kerr can lead the Matildas beyond the quarter-finals for the first time. Ten venues across nine cities in Australia and New Zealand will host the first 32-team women's World Cup, which is set to smash records for attendance and viewing figures in a further indication of the growing popularity of the sport. Thailand will play in the final play-offs for a third consecutive World Cup berth.

USA players celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup. (Photo: AFP)

World Athletics Championships

  • Where: Budapest
  • When: Aug 19-27

World athletes of the year, pole vault star Armand Duplantis and hurdler Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone will bid to recreate their world record-setting victories in the Hungarian capital. Coming a year after the Covid-delayed world championships in Eugene, Oregon, the biennial event will play host to a raft of up-and-coming track and field stars. All eyes will be on Jamaica's five-time 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the women's sprints, at the age of 36. The US team will look to the likes of Fred Kerley, Noah Lyles, Michael Norman and Erriyon Knighton to light up the men's short track, while Norway's Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Karsten Warholm will bid to extend their winning form.

World Swimming Championships

  • Where: Japan
  • When: July 14-30

As swimming tries to catch up after the pandemic, Fukuoka hosts the second of three world championships in 19 months. The meet was originally scheduled for 2021 but was elbowed aside when the Tokyo Olympics were pushed back. Fukuoka says it has a concept, "Water Meets the Future," expressing "the hope that all the participants will meet the future." Yet, as established stars, with one eye on the 2024 Olympics, skipped major events swimming did meet its future in 2022. Romanian David Popovici, Australian Mollie O'Callaghan, Canadian Summer McIntosh, Italian Benadetta Pilato and American Torri Huske, can all arrive in Japan to defend world titles they won last June as teenagers.

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