From Djokovic’s deportation to Messi’s coronation…the most prominent moments of the year

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Paris (AFP) – The year 2022 began with the deportation of the Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic from Australia, and ended with the dedication of the greatness of the Argentine Lionel Messi by leading his country to its third world title in the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.

AFP looks at the biggest sporting moments of 2022.

Djokovic deportation

Djokovic traveled to Melbourne in January hoping to defend his title and win a tenth Australian Open, the first of the four Grand Slams. However, his visa was canceled because he did not receive the coronavirus vaccine, and therefore did not comply with the laws imposed on expatriates. He was held in a hotel that housed refugees before being deported from the country.

He was also banned from traveling to New York for the same reason, which also prevented him from competing in the US Open Championship, after winning his seventh title at Wimbledon in July.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic at Dubai airport after being deported from Australia for failing to receive a coronavirus vaccine on January 17, 2022. © Correspondent / AFP / Archives

He has been allowed to compete in the Australian Open in 2023, seeking his 22nd Grand Slam title to equal Spain’s Rafael Nadal, who was crowned in 2022 in Melbourne and Roland Garros.

Valieva and the doping scandal

Teenager Kamila Valieva stole the spotlight at the Beijing Winter Olympics due to a doping scandal.

The 15-year-old Russian became the first woman to achieve a quadruple jump in Olympic history, helping Russia win the gold medal in the team competitions in figure skating.

Russian figure skating star Kamila Valeeva during her participation in the Russian Grand Prix in Moscow on October 22, 2022.
Russian figure skating star Kamila Valeeva during her participation in the Russian Grand Prix in Moscow on October 22, 2022. © Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Archives

But in the midst of the action, I learned that a doping test she underwent in late 2021 came back positive for taking trimetazidine, which is used to treat angina pectoris but is banned for athletes because it improves endurance.

However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport allowed her to participate in the individual competitions, which were the most prominent candidates to win her gold, as she was considered a minor, but without clearing her of doping. She fell several times due to psychological pressure and finished fourth.

Russian media reported that Valieva drank from the same cup as her grandfather, who takes medication for heart disease.

Exclusion of Russia from the world of sports

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February led to the exclusion of its athletes and their Belarusian allies from world sport. Russia was excluded from the qualifiers for the World Cup Qatar, Russia and Belarus from the World Championships in Athletics, while tennis players from both countries were banned from competing at the Wimbledon Championships.

Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk (right) refuses to shake Belarus' Victoria Azarenka during the US Open on September 1, 2022.
Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk (right) refuses to shake Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka during the US Open on September 1, 2022. © Sarah Steyer/Getty Images/AFP/Archive

Kazakhstan’s Russian-born Elena Rybakina won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon. Some matches have seen tension, such as at the US Open when Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine refused to shake hands with Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

Champions League final chaos

Chaos broke out in the UEFA Champions League final on May 28 in the French capital, Paris, when thousands of English Liverpool fans were unable to get to the stadium to watch the match against Real Madrid.

Police confront fans during the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool, England, and Real Madrid, Spain, on May 28, 2022.
Police confront fans during the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool, England, and Real Madrid, Spain, on May 28, 2022. © Maryam al-Hamushi/AFP/archive

Fans holding tickets were tear gassed by police and initially accused of trying to enter the stadium illegally. These allegations were refuted and the organizers and those in charge of security were found guilty of misconduct.

Real Madrid won 1-0 and achieved its fourteenth title.

Swimming rescue

In a breathtaking scene, American Anita Alvarez was dramatically rescued from the bottom of the pool by her Spanish coach, Andrea Fuentes, after passing out during her performance in the rhythmic swimming competitions at the World Swimming Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

USA rhythmic swimming coach Andrea Fuentes (R) rescues swimmer Anita Alvarez after she faints during her performance at the World Swimming Championships in Budapest on June 22, 2022.
USA rhythmic swimming coach Andrea Fuentes (R) rescues swimmer Anita Alvarez after she faints during her performance at the World Swimming Championships in Budapest on June 22, 2022. © Ole Scarfe/AFP/Archives

Fuentesson dived to the bottom of the pool in her shorts and T-shirt and pulled Alvares to the surface. “It was terrifying. I had to jump because the lifeguards wouldn’t do it (…) I think she lasted at least two minutes without breathing because her lungs were full of water.”

Alvarez recovered but was not allowed to complete her participation in the tournament.

Saudi Arabia raises the bar in golf

The world of golf was divided after the introduction of the “Leaf Golf” tournament last July, which was supported by Saudi Arabia and former Australian world champion Greg Norman, attracting many stars.

Australian Greg Norman is a regular supporter
Australian Greg Norman, a supporter of the Saudi-backed “Live Golf” tournament, during his participation in the Miami tournament on October 20, 2022. © Eric Espada/Getty Images/AFP/Archive

Saudi Arabia has been accused of practicing “sportswashing” through the tournament, like many other sporting events, because of its record on human rights, and the US Championships threatened the players who participated in “LIFE” to expel them from the “PGA” excluding professional tournaments. .

Goodbye, Federer and Serena

Tennis has said goodbye to two of its greatest legends. Switzerland’s Roger Federer, who succumbed to a knee injury, retired in September aged 41 after a career that won him 20 major titles, 103 titles overall and prize money worth $130 million.

Roger Federer and Spain's Rafael Nadal touched during the Swiss retirement ceremony after their Laver Cup match on September 24, 2022
Roger Federer and Spain’s Rafael Nadal touched during the Swiss retirement ceremony after their Laver Cup match on September 24, 2022 © Glenn Kirk/AFP/Archives

He played his last match with his eternal rival and Spanish friend Rafael Nadal in the doubles competition in the Laver Cup. The two players wept side by side in a touching scene during the farewell ceremony on the pitch.

Serena Williams refused to use the word “retirement” as she played what was likely her last tournament at the US Open. The American (41) said she wanted to “develop” away from tennis after winning 23 major titles. According to Forbes, her net worth is $260 million in 2022.

Messi finally lifts the World Cup

After carrying the burden of an entire country throughout his career, Messi led Argentina to win the World Cup in Qatar for the first time since 1986, after a dramatic final against defending champions France 4-2 with penalty kicks after the end of normal and extra time in a 3-3 tie.

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, wears the traditional Messi bib before lifting the World Cup with Argentina on December 18, 2022.
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, wears the traditional Messi bib before lifting the World Cup with Argentina on December 18, 2022. © Paul Ellis/AFP

Messi’s stunning performance, which saw him win the tournament’s best player award, cemented his status as one of the greatest players of all time, and in the eyes of many, as he joined legends who lifted the coveted trophy like compatriot Diego Maradona and Brazil’s. Pele

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