A guide to the major sports events of 2019

As we enter the new year, here are the major championships you can't miss in 2019.

By ZK Goh ·

We have waved goodbye to the Olympic year of 2018, which saw Marit Bjoergen become the most-decorated winter Olympian at PyeongChang 2018 as well as the introduction of sport climbing and skateboarding at Buenos Aires 2018.

With the new sporting year upon us, we take a look ahead at the spread of sporting action that awaits.

There are world championships in nearly every Olympic sport, as well as continental Games. Those include the second European Games, the African Games, and the Pan-American Games.

Here is a sport-by-sport guide of what to look forward to in 2019.

Winter sports

All 15 Olympic winter sports disciplines held their world championships early in the year, towards the end of the 2018/19 seasons.

The bobsleigh and skeleton, freestyle skiing and snowboarding, and Nordic skiing (cross-country, Nordic combined and ski jumping) world championships are each held together.

Here's when to follow those events.

Alpine skiing

What? FIS Alpine World Ski Championships (read our preview, women's events review, men's events review, or visit the event page)

Where? Åre, Sweden

When? 5–17 February 2019

Åre beat out the 1956 Olympic host city of Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, for the right to host the event this year.

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What? IBU Biathlon World Championships (read our preview or visit the event page)

Where? Östersund, Sweden

When? 7–17 March 2019

This was the first world championships since 1993 not to involve eight-time Olympic champion Ole Einar Bjørndalen, who retired in April.

Bobsleigh and Skeleton

What? IBSF World Championships

Where? Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

When? 1–9 March 2019

The championships took place at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic track in Whistler, which is considered the fastest sliding track in the world.

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Cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, and Ski jumping

What? FIS Nordic World Ski Championships (visit our event page)

Where? Seefeld-in-Tirol, Austria

When? 20 February–3 March 2019

The resort of Seefeld last hosted the Nordic World Ski Championships in 1985. Ski jumping competitions took place in Innsbruck at Bergisel, which also hosted the Olympic ski jumping events in 1964 and 1976.

Curling (men's)

What? World Men's Curling Championship (read our preview or visit our event page)

Where? Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

When? 30 March–7 April 2019

Curling (women's)

What? World Women's Curling Championship (visit our event page)

Where? Silkeborg, Denmark

When? 16–24 March 2019

Canada usually alternates between hosting a world men's and a world women's championship every year.

Curling (mixed doubles)

What? World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship (visit our event page)

Where? Stavanger, Norway

When? 20–27 April 2019

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Figure skating

What? ISU World Figure Skating Championships (read our preview, review, or live blog)

Where? Saitama, Japan

When? 18–24 March 2019

While European skatersd compete in the European Championships (Minsk, Belarus; 21–27 January), skaters from the other continents came together to compete in the Four Continents Championships (Anaheim, California, USA; 4–10 February) as their equivalent continental competition. This year's European Championships were the last professional competition for Olympic bronze medallist Javier Fernandez.

Freestyle skiing and Snowboarding

What? FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships (read our preview)

Where? Park City, Utah, USA and other resorts in Utah

When? 1–10 February 2019

The world championships for freestyle skiing and snowboarding were separate until 2013. They were merged for the first time in 2015.

Ice hockey (men's)

What? IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship (read our preview or final report)

Where? Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia

When? 10–26 May 2019

Great Britain, Olympic ice hockey champions in 1936, played in the top-flight world championship for the first time since 1994.

Ice hockey (women's)

What? IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship

Where? Espoo, Finland

When? 4–14 April 2019

There were ten teams competing in Espoo, the largest top-division women's world championship since the tournament began in 1990.

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What? FIL World Championships (visit our event page)

Where? Winterberg, Germany

When? 25–27 January 2019

Short track speed skating

What? ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships

Where? Sofia, Bulgaria

When? 8–10 March 2019

It is 20 years since Sofia first hosted the Championships in 1999. The Bulgarian capital also staged the event in 2010.

Speed skating

What? ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships

Where? Inzell, Germany

When? 7–10 February 2019

The Single Distances Championships replicate the format of the Olympic Games, with medals awarded in each event. The ISU also organises the World Sprint Speed Skating Championships (Heerenveen, Netherlands; 23–24 February), which comprise of an overall score after two 500m and two 1000m races, and the World Allround Speed Skating Championships (Calgary, Alberta, Canada; 2–3 March), where skaters race in four individual disciplines but have their results count towards an overall score.

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Summer sports

With Tokyo 2020 now just a year away, many major competitions in summer sports this year also serve as Olympic qualification events as athletes and teams start to focus on the Games.

The action began as early as 8 January, when the last 2018 world championship took place in street skateboarding.

There are no world championship events in women's basketball, equestrian, field hockey, individual golf, karate, women's softball, and indoor volleyball this year.

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Aquatics (Artistic swimming, Diving, Swimming, and Water polo)

What? FINA World Aquatics Championships (read our preview, review, live blog, women's water polo report, men's water polo report, or visit our event page)

Where? Gwangju, South Korea

When? 12–28 July 2019

Artistic swimming was formerly known as synchronised swimming. This year's World Aquatics Championships acted as an Olympic qualifier in artistic swimming, diving, and water polo, and also for selected swimming events such as relays.

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What? World Archery Championships (read our preview, watch highlights, or visit the event page)

Where? 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

When? 10–16 June 2019

The 2019 World Archery Championships saw the best eight teams in each gender qualify for Tokyo 2020. The three members from each qualified team also qualified for the individual competition. The best four archers in each gender who didn't qualify through the team competition also earned their berths to Japan.


What? IAAF World Athletics Championships (read our preview, review, live blog, or visit the event page)

Where? Doha, Qatar

When? 27 September–6 October 2019

The Olympic qualification system for athletics changed for 2020, with the introduction of the IAAF's new world rankings. Athletes' performances at the World Athletics Championships in Doha counted towards those rankings, while the best eight teams in each relay event also booked their flights to Tokyo.


What? BWF Badminton World Championships (read our preview, singles report, review, or visit our event page)

Where? Basel, Switzerland

When? 19–25 August 2019

Switzerland last hosted the Badminton World Championships in 1995, when the Olympic capital of Lausanne was host city. However, qualification for Tokyo was not on the line as badminton qualifiers will be determined using the BWF World Rankings.


What? WBSC Premier12 (read our preview, or visit our event page)

Where? The finals were held in Tokyo, Japan.

When? 2–17 November 2019; finals began 11 November

The WBSC's top international men's baseball competition, the Premier12, was held in South Korea, Chinese Taipei, Mexico, and Japan. South Korea and Mexico qualified for the Olympic Games through this tournament.

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What? FIBA Basketball World Cup (read our preview, final report, or review)

Where? China

When? 31 August–15 September 2019

Seven men's teams qualified for Tokyo 2020 through their performances in this year's Basketball World Cup. There is no women's tournament in 2019; the United States qualified for the Olympic Games by winning the 2018 Women's Basketball World Cup.

Basketball 3×3

What? FIBA 3x3 World Cup (read our preview or visit the event page)

Where? Amsterdam, Netherlands

When? 18–23 June 2019

There was no direct qualification from this tournament to Tokyo 2020, but the three best teams in each event at the 3×3 World Cup booked their spots at the final Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament.


Boxing's international federation, AIBA, is currently suspended by the International Olympic Committee.

Its World Championships were held in September in Russia.

Canoe slalom

What? ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships

Where? La Seu d'Urgell, Spain

When? 25–29 September 2019

A total of 58 Olympic places across the four events in this discipline were up for grabs when the Canoe Slalom World Championships visited the Spanish town of La Seu d'Urgell, near the Andorran border. The Parc Olímpic del Segre, where competition took place, also hosted canoe slalom events at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games.

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Canoe sprint

What? ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships

Where? Szeged, Hungary

When? 21–25 August 2019

Just as it did eight years ago in 2011, the Hungarian city of Szeged welcomed top sprint canoeists to the Canoe Sprint World Championships as they attempted to qualify for the Olympic Games. Qualification for Tokyo was awarded both individually and by boats.

Cycling – BMX freestyle

What? UCI Urban Cycling World Championships

Where? Chengdu, China

When? 6–10 November 2019

Two BMX freestylers per gender qualified for the first ever appearance of their event at an Olympic Games via the Urban Cycling World Championships.

Cycling – BMX racing

What? UCI BMX World Championships (visit our event page)

Where? Heusden-Zolder, Belgium

When? 23–28 July 2019

No Olympic qualifying spots were on offer at this year's BMX World Championships in Belgium. Two spots per gender will be available through next year's Championships, however.

Cycling – Mountain bike

What? UCI Mountain Bike World Championships

Where? Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada

When? 28 August–11 September

Eight athletes punched their ticket to Japan at the Mountain Bike World Championships in the cross-country event.

Cycling – Road

What? UCI Road World Championships (read our preview)

Where? Yorkshire, Great Britain

When? 22–29 September

The UCI Road World Championships visited the northern English region of Yorkshire in September, centred around the town of Harrogate. A total of 20 athletes, 10 in each elite individual road race, qualified for Tokyo 2020.

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Cycling – Track

What? UCI Track World Championships (read our preview or visit our event page)

Where? Pruszkow, Poland

When? 27 February–3 March 2019

There was no direct qualification to Tokyo 2020 for athletes at the Track World Championships, who scored points towards their UCI Olympic qualification ranking.


What? FIE World Fencing Championships (read our preview or visit our event page)

Where? Budapest, Hungary

When? 15–23 July 2019


What? FIFA Women's World Cup (visit our event storyline)

Where? France

When? 7 June–7 July 2019

The top three European teams at the Women's World Cup in June qualified for Tokyo 2020. The four British football associations, representing England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, agreed to send a Great Britain women's team to Japan if England finished the competition as one of the three qualifiers. They did, and therefore the three qualified teams from this event were Netherlands, Sweden, and Great Britain.

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Gymnastics – Artistic

What? FIG World Artistic Gymnastics Championships (read our preview, review, report, or live blog, visit our event page, or watch our original series All Around)

Where? Stuttgart, Germany

When? 4–13 October 2019

Three teams had already qualified in each gender for the team all-around at Tokyo 2020 from the 2018 world championships. At the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, a further nine teams per gender sealed their spots, while individual quota places were also awarded.

Gymnastics – Rhythmic

What? FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships (read our preview, review, or visit our event page)

Where? Baku, Azerbaijan

When? 16–22 September 2019

Five teams and 16 individuals confirmed their places in Tokyo at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships.

Gymnastics – Trampoline

What? FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships (visit our event page)

Where? Tokyo, Japan

When? 28 November–1 December 2019

Just months ahead of the Olympics, the world's best trampoline gymnasts visited Tokyo for the Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships, which doubled as the test event for the Olympic Games. Eight gymnasts per gender qualified for the Games.

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Handball (men's)

What? IHF World Men's Handball Championship (read our preview or review)

Where? Denmark and Germany

When? 10–27 January 2019

A unified Korean team represented North and South Korea at the World Men's Handball Championship in January, building on warming sporting relations first achieved at PyeongChang 2018. The world champion team (and co-hosts) Denmark qualified for Tokyo 2020.

Handball (women's)

What? IHF World Women's Handball Championship

Where? Japan

When? 30 November–15 December 2019

One qualifying spot was on offer at the World Women's Handball Championship at the end of the year. It went to champions the Netherlands.


What? IJF World Judo Championships (read our preview or review)

Where? Tokyo, Japan

When? 25 August–1 September 2019

Judoka at the World Judo Championships had an early peek at how preparations are going for the Olympic Games, as this year's championships doubled as the test event for next year's big spectacle.

Modern pentathlon

What? UIPM Pentathlon World Championships (visit our event page)

Where? Budapest, Hundary

When? 2–9 September 2019

Three athletes per gender qualified from the Modern Pentathlon World Championships for Tokyo 2020. The UIPM 2019 World Cup Final (27 June) in Tokyo served the Olympic Games test event.


What? World Rowing Championships (read our preview or visit our event page)

Where? Linz-Ottensheim, Austria

When? 25 August–1 September 2019

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Rugby Sevens

You can read the Olympic Channel's preview of the World Rugby Sevens Series here.

Four teams per gender qualified from the 2018/19 World Sevens Series and World Women's Sevens Series for Tokyo 2020.


After the combined world championships in 2018, each sailing class will hold its own individual world championship in 2019.

The Laser World Championship and Women's Laser Radial World Championship take place in Japan in July; the 470 World Championships are in Japan the month later; the RS:X Windsurfing World Championships in Italy in September; the Nacra 17 World Championship and 49er/49er FX World Championships in New Zealand begin in November; and the Finn Gold Cup will be held in Melbourne, Australia, in December.

Olympic Games places were on offer at each event.


What? ISSF World Championship Shotgun

Where? Lonato, Italy

When? 30 June–10 July 2019

This shotgun-only event (trap, double trap, skeet) had no Olympic berths on offer.

Skateboarding – Park

What? World Skate Park World Championship (read our preview, report, or visit our event page)

Where? São Paulo, Brazil

When? 10–15 September 2019

Acted as a qualification event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Skateboarding – Street

What? World Skate SLS World Championships

Where? São Paulo, Brazil

When? 18–22 September 2019

Acted as a qualification event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Sport climbing

What? IFSC World Championships (read our preview, report, Olympic qualification review, or visit our event page)

Where? Hachioji, Japan

When? 11–21 August 2019

Seven athletes per gender qualified for the Olympic Games next year in the Combined events.

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What? ISA World Surfing Games (read our report or visit our event page)

Where? Miyazaki, Japan

When? 7–15 September 2019

The highest-placed athlete from each continent in each gender at the World Surfing Games secured a quota spot for Tokyo 2020. The top 10 men and top eight women on this year's World Surf League Championship Tour also qualified. Surfers on the WSL CT must compete at either the 2019 or 2020 World Surfing Games to be eligible for Olympic qualification through the WSL.

Table tennis

What? ITTF World Table Tennis Championships (read our preview, women's singles report, or men's singles report)

Where? Budapest, Hungary

When? 21–28 April 2019


What? World Taekwondo Championships (read our preview)

Where? Manchester, Great Britain

When? 15–19 May 2019

There was no direct qualification to Tokyo 2020 available at the World Taekwondo Championships, but athletes can score points towards their World Taekwondo Olympic qualification ranking.

Tennis (men's)

What? Davis Cup Finals (read our final report)

Where? Madrid, Spain

When? 18–24 November 2019

This year saw the first edition of the Davis Cup Finals in its new single tournament format held over a week. While tennis players qualify through the world rankings and by winning other multi-sport events like the Asian Games, they must have made themselves available for selection in the Davis Cup to be eligible for Olympic selection.

Tennis (women's)

The same is true in women's tennis, where qualified players must have made themselves available for Fed Cup selection to be eligible to play at Tokyo 2020. The format of the Fed Cup World Group did not change, and it took place as a straight knockout tournament with the final from 9–10 November.


What? ITU Triathlon World Series

Where? Various locations

When? Throughout the year

While the triathletes could not directly qualify from the Triathlon World Series for Tokyo 2020, they could accrue points towards the ITU's Olympic Qualification Ranking. A mixed relay World Series race in Tokyo in August acted as the sport's test event.

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Volleyball (beach)

What? FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships (read our preview, review, or visit our event page)

Where? Hamburg, Germany

When? 28 June–1 July 2019

The world champion in each gender booked their spot for Tokyo 2020.

Volleyball (indoor)

There is no world championship in indoor volleyball this year, but the Volleyball Men's World Cup (1–15 October) and Volleyball Women's World Cup (14–29 September) will be held in Japan, as it is every pre-Olympic year. That should provide a few clues as to the form teams ahead of next year's Games.


What? IWF World Weightlifting Championships (read our preview or visit our event page)

Where? Pattaya, Thailand

When? 16–25 September 2019


What? UWW Wrestling World Championships (read our preview or visit our event page)

Where? Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), Kazakhstan

When? 14–22 September 2019

Six athletes in each event gained an Olympic spot at the Wrestling World Championships in September.

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Multi-sport events

African Games

Where? Casablanca and Rabat, Morocco

When? 23 August–9 September 2019

The first All-Africa Games took place in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, in 1965.

Read our preview or visit our event page.

European Games

Where? Minsk, Belarus

When? 21–30 June 2019

The athletics programme included, for the first time, a mixed-gender team format called 'Dynamic New Athletics'.

Read our preview, review, live blog, or visit our event page.

Pan-American Games

Where? Lima, Peru

When? 26 July–11 August 2019

The sporting programme included the non-Olympic sport of bodybuilding.

Read our preview, review, live blog, or visit our event page.

Pacific Games

Where? Samoa

When? 7–20 July 2019

Australia and New Zealand only made their Pacific Games debuts in 2015. The Pacific Games are not an official continental Games, and therefore provided no Olympic qualification berths.

Visit our event page.

Don't forget to follow the Olympic Channel throughout the year for the latest news and highlights from your favourite sports.