There’s no denying that 2020 was something of a write-off when it came to the world of sports, with everything from the Tokyo Olympics to Euro 2020 being put on the backburner due to the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. As if that wasn’t disappointing enough, we also saw a whole host of horse racing and tennis events cancelled, with many being postponed until 2021.
Now that the new year has arrived, it seems that the sporting calendar still won’t be quite what we’re used to, and although many events will go ahead this year, the majority will do so without live audiences. It’s possible that, later in the year, attending such dates might become possible with the implementation of social distancing, but until then, we’ll have to make do with watching it all on TV.
Even so, the fun of sports betting is something that can’t be detracted from, whether or not you’re watching the action unfold live on the day or not. If you’re partial to a bit of a flutter and the adrenaline that comes with the possibility of doubling your fortune, then there is lots to get excited about over the coming twelve months.
If you’re ready to put your money where your mouth is in 2021, then look no further – because we sat down with sports betting expert John Kettle of bestbettingsites.co.uk, to find out where you should be placing your bets.
Australian Open – 8th – 21st February
Despite being marred by a spate of Covid-19 cases and over 600 players and staff being told to isolate in the lead-up, the Australian Open is now well underway in Melbourne. Although its 62 opening matches were initially postponed and several players have had to drop out of the competition, play will continue until 21st February.
Current favourite to win in the men’s tournament is Novak Djokovic, while in the women’s, we can expect to see Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty battling it out for the top spot. There’s still time to place your bets, but odds are being slashed by the minute.
Cheltenham Festival – 19th – 22nd March
Although nothing is certain in this new era of Covid-19, it currently looks as though Cheltenham Festival – one of the biggest events in the horse racing calendar – will go ahead, but there’s no denying that this year, things might look a little different.
It’s an important four days for the betting industry, with tens of millions of pounds typically wagered across the festival. But the usual influx of attendees from Ireland is likely to be curtailed this year due to a mixture of travel restrictions and the impact of Brexit, and it’s possible the event may happen without any spectators being allowed in to watch.
The Gold Cup winner is set to scoop a whopping £350,000 win, and excitement is building around the possibility of Al Boum Photo claiming the title once again. Having twice scooped the trophy in 2019 and 2020, he could be set to make history by becoming only the fifth ever horse to claim a hat-trick of victories.
Royal Ascot – 15th-19th June
One of the highlights of the June sporting calendar, Royal Ascot is likely to get the green light to go ahead this year, with much of the UK adult population expected to have received their vaccinations by this point. Once again though, it remains unclear if spectators will be permitted – so on that one, we’ll have to wait and see.
With seven races taking place daily, the 2019 event attracted nearly 300,000 racegoers, but this year’s is likely to look a little thinner on the ground if guests are permitted to attend, with social distancing measures almost certain to be in place.
Under normal circumstances, around 70 per cent of Ascot’s annual turnover – which was an eye-watering £96.7m in 2019 – is derived from spectator ticket sales, hospitality and betting. Tickets are not yet on sale, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start researching your betting options now, with another opportunity to scoop some big wins on the table.
UEFA Euro 2021 – 11th June – 11th July
Postponed from last year until this summer, Euro 2021 is still expected to go ahead this year, with the tournament confirmed across twelve nations despite the current pandemic.
England is currently pegged as the favourite to win the tournament, with close competition from Belgium and current world champions, France – which could prove a great opportunity for a big win on home soil. Place your bets for this one, because football could well and truly be coming home in 2021, and you’ll no doubt want a slice of the winnings when it does.
Summer Olympics – 23rd July – 8th August
Will Tokyo 2021 – which was already postponed last year – still go ahead? The answer remains to be seen – but the IOC insists that they will despite the ongoing uncertainty. Having been slow to accept last year’s postponement, they are likely unwilling to be seen putting a foot wrong for a second time, but results of a recent poll in Japan revealed that more than 80 per cent of the population were opposed to the games going ahead. Nevertheless, officials are determined to prove that they can hold the event safely, and have been pressing ahead with preparations.
With nearly 11,000 athletes from around the world set to put on an impressive performance across a range of team and individual sports, there are plenty of opportunities to place your bets here. Team GB put on a spectacular show in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Can they outdo themselves this time around?