2013: A Big Year for Asia-Pacific Sports

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If 2012 was a special year for sports in the Asia-Pacific region, 2013 promises more of the same. OK, there are no Olympics or World Cups, but there will still be plenty of action.

January sees the Australia Tennis Open with the region’s professionals hoping to show and perform well. The 2011 French Open winner, Li Na of China, will be aiming to prove that success in Paris was not a flash in the pan.

Asia is coming into its own in golf and is dominating the woman’s game. Yani Tseng of Taiwan is number one, and there are four South Koreans and two Japanese in the top ten rankings.

Early this year, Indonesia will find out if it is finally suspended by FIFA for the chaos that the country’s football scene is in –two leagues, two national associations and one big mess. The India Olympic Association hopes its ban will be lifted.

The Asian Football Confederation is likely to host an election for a new president in April. Mohamed Bin Hammam took the post in 2002 and was suspended in 2011 after allegations of vote-buying as he challenged Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency. After 18 months of more allegations and revelations, the Qatari resigned and was banned for life.

In June, Asian champions Japan will compete in the 2013 Confederations Cup, along with title-holders from all over the world. This also serves as a warm-up for the 2014 World Cup.

In cricket, 2013 could see the retirement of Indian legend, Sachin Tendulkar. The "Little Master" recently stepped down from the one day game, stepping down from the five-day test version can’t be too far away.

Asia will have a good deal of interest in the 2013 Figure Skating Championships in March with South Korea’s Kim Yuna set to meet old rival Asada Mao of Japan on the ice.

Asian athletes will be hoping to make an impact in track and field at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow in August. In December, the 2013 Southeast Asian Games will be hosted in Myanmar.

In the same month, in Barcelona at the World Swimming championship, the stars of Chinese swimming will be competing to show that success at the 2012 Olympics was not a one-off while Australia’s will try to prove that its relative failure was.

Tokyo will be on tenterhooks in September when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) votes on whether the Japanese capital will defeat Madrid and Istanbul in the race to host the 2020 Olympics. At the moment, it is looking good but there is still some way to go.

Boxing fans will be waiting to see if Manny Pacquiao returns to the ring later in the year after his recent knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez. There is talk of retirement in some quarters but the smart money is on the “Pacman” lacing up his gloves once again.

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