A stellar set of much-anticipated sporting events in 2019, including summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France and autumn’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, provide the perfect excuses for sports fans to travel to these five cities.
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, held between 7 June and 7 July, will bring football fans from across the world once again to France. The host and runner-up of the 2016 UEFA European Championship and the winner of the 2018 FIFA Men’s World Cup will become the fourth nation to stage both the premier men’s and women’s international football tournaments. Matches will be played at nine locations, including the Parc des Princes in Paris. Coming off their quarter-final appearance at the 2017 UEFA Women’s European Championship, Les Bleues will be looking to dethrone title holders, Team USA, and Chile, Jamaica, Scotland and South Africa will all make their World Cup debuts. In 2019, the City of Lights will also stage Formula E’s Paris ePrix (27 April), the French Open tennis championship (26 May-9 June) and Paris Rugby Sevens (1-2 June).
On top of the annual showpieces – the Australian Open, Formula One’s Australian Grand Prix, Festival of Sails – there are a couple of one-off events heading to Melbourne in 2019. The Rod Laver Arena will host UFC 234 on 10 February, where Australian Robert ‘The Reaper’ Whittaker will defend his middleweight title against Kelvin Gastelum in the main event. Aussie fans will also get to see UFC legend Anderson Silva, who fights on the undercard against Nigerian Israel Adesanya.
Rugby league will celebrate its indigenous roots with the NRL Harvey Norman All-Stars event on 15 February, kicking off the 2019 season. The Australian Indigenous All-Stars will take on the New Zealand Maori Kiwis at AAMI Park Melbourne, with bona fide stars such as Greg Inglis, Valentine Holmes and Kalyn Ponga all set to play. The Maori side will replace the World All-Stars team that has been fielded in previous editions, adding greater support and cultural significance to what will hopefully become an annual event.
The home of Hollywood glitz and glamour continues its resurgence in the world of sports. Sorely missing professional football from 1994 to 2016, LA now boasts two National Football League (NFL) organisations – and good ones at that. The Rams and Chargers are two of the best teams in the NFL this season, and they’ll christen their new home, Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park, in 2020.
The teams’ success and the arrival of basketball megastar LeBron James at the Lakers, Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimović’s move to LA Galaxy and the Dodgers’ consecutive Major League Baseball World Series appearances have made LA the talk of the US sports landscape. On top of all that, a second Major League Soccer franchise, Los Angeles Football Club, played their first-ever game in 2018.
For the first time in the history of the Rugby World Cup, the tournament will be competed outside a traditional rugby-playing nation. After a brilliant showing at the 2015 edition, Japan will welcome the rugby world to its shores between 20 September and 2 November. Twelve cities will host games, with Tokyo providing the stage for the opening ceremony, the tournament’s first match between the Brave Blossoms and Russia, and a number of pool and knockout fixtures.
In the meantime, the city continues to prepare for the 2020 Olympics. Construction is under way on the New National Stadium and 11 other venues, the bulk of the development happening in the Tokyo Bay area, including work on the Olympics Aquatics Centre and new facilities for BMX, skateboarding and volleyball.
South America’s biggest football tournament, the Copa América, heads to five Brazilian cities in summer 2019. Only São Paulo will provide two stadiums: the Estádio do Morumbi and Arena Corinthians. After Brazil’s dismal exit from their own World Cup in 2014, this summer provides the Seleção with a shot at redemption.
On the track, Interlagos continues to be the home of F1’s Brazilian Grand Prix and, away from more traditional offerings, São Paulo will host the BIG Festival (Brazil’s Independent Games Festival). Tens of thousands will flock to the week-long event from 22 to 30 June for its national and international e-sports competitions. Last year, 645 computer and mobile games from over 50 different countries were showcased, and these figures are set to increase in 2019.
This article is a collaboration between Culture Trip’s Sports Editors, Luke Bradshaw and Michael LoRé.
For more of this series, check out our wishlist article on wellness travel in 2019.