No shortage of ‘big events’ this year

It’s a new year, and there’s no shortage of sporting events to tug at your heartstrings.

First up is the Asian Cup, which kicks off 2024. The tournament kicks off on December 12 in Qatar, where the South Korean national soccer team, led by Jürgen Klinsmann, will attempt to return to the top after a 64-year absence. The reigning Asian champions have won the tournament four times, once in 1956 and twice in 1960, before finishing as runners-up.

Led by captain Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur), who fought back tears after finishing runner-up in Australia in 2015, the team will be joined by some of Europe’s biggest names, including Kim Min-jae (Munich), Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton) and Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain). With 12 Europeans on the final roster, this is the most ever, and the strongest ever.

In February, the World Table Tennis Championships (Feb. 16-25) will be held in Busan in a team event format. The event, which will be held for the first time in South Korea, was originally scheduled to take place in 2020 but was canceled after being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, the Korea Table Tennis Association (KTA) was successful in securing the return of the event against stiff competition. It will be interesting to see how the Korean men’s and women’s table tennis teams, led by Shin Yubin (Korean Air), will fare at the Anbang Worlds.

The round of 16 of the Asian Champions League (ACL) begins in mid-February. Ulsan HD, Jeonbuk Hyundai, and Pohang Steelers will represent the K League 1 in their quest to reclaim the title before the final in May. All three teams have won the ACL before. Pohang and Jeonbuk, who met in last year’s FA Cup final, will face off in the ACL Round of 16. In the FA Cup, Pohang won 4-2 to lift the trophy.

On March 20 and 21, the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul will host the opening games of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.

The biggest sporting event of 2024 will take place in the middle of summer in Paris, France. The Paris Olympics will open on July 26 and run through August 11, capturing the world’s attention. This will be the third time Paris has hosted the Olympics, after 1900 and 1924. This year’s Games are being recognized as a fully gender-equal event, with 5250 athletes of both sexes competing. Korean high jump stars Woo Sang-hyuk (Yongin City Hall), Hwang Sun-woo (Gangwon Provincial Office), and Ahn Se-young (Samsung Life Insurance) are among the favorites to win gold. Archery, which won four of the five gold medals in Tokyo, will be looking to sweep all events in Paris.

The Paralympic Games (Aug. 28-Sept. 8), the crown jewel of Para sports, will be held at the same venue. Taekwondo’s Joo Jeong-hoon (SK Ecoplant) and fencer Kwon Hyo-kyung (Hongseong County Office) will be in the spotlight.

The year-end event will be organized by the Korean Baseball Organization. After the 2024 KBO Korean Series, the Premier 12 will be held Nov. 10-24. The tournament features the top 12 nations in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), and South Korea will be looking to improve on its runner-up finish in 2019. With no major leaguers participating, the performance of KBO players is more important than ever. South Korea, the 2015 inaugural champions, will be relying heavily on the “young bloods,” including batting centers Moon Dong-ju and Noh Si-hwan (Hanwha).

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