Fun and Games

With no Olympics, the focus falls on smaller tournaments scattered around the globe.

For football fans, the Africa Cup of Nations kicked off the year in South Africa (until 10 February), and closer to home, soccer fans will be able to watch the UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium – but Chelsea’s early exit means the London side won’t be there to defend their title.

For those from colder climes, 16 teams will gather in Helsinki and Stockholm to battle it out for the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship (3-19 May).

The 100th Tour de France will take off for the first time from Corsica on 29 June, and the gruelling test of endurance ends in Paris on 21 July. Hopefully the tournament will not be overshadowed by the doping scandals.

Cycling fans will also be able to travel to beautiful Tuscany for the World Cycling Championships (21-19 Sept).

Moscow will be the host of the IAAF World Athletics Championships, (10-18 August), followed by the Francophonie Games (6-15 September) where 55 French-speaking nations and territories will gather in friendly competition on the French Riviera of Nice.

The host for the 2020 Olympics will be announced at the IOC’s 125th Session in Buenos Aires – will it be Istanbul, Madrid or Tokyo?

Myanmar ends the sporting year as it hosts the South East Asian Games in its brand-new capital of Nay Pyi Taw (11-22 December), yet another sign that the country is finally emerging from isolation.

And if sport is not your thing, there is plenty happening in the world of culture. The 11th edition of the Sharjah Biennial opens in March; the 55th the Venice Biennale starts in June, followed in September by the 13th Istanbul Biennial, and the fifth Moscow Biennale.

And for those diplomats looking to take a break from it all, why not try Marseille in France or Kosice in Slovakia, both of whom are European Capitals of Culture and have a fantastic line-up of events throughout the year.