Welcoming 2021 with hope!

Published December 26, 2020
Illustration by Muhammad Faizan
Illustration by Muhammad Faizan

Life, as we knew it, has changed and we owe that to the Covid-19-hit 2020. In the last 12 months, face masks became an important accessory, hand sanitiser became a necessity and washing hands became compulsory to stay safe and healthy. Stadiums, cinemas and even restaurants stayed almost empty, and people chose to stay indoors and work from home rather than venture out and risk getting sick with Covid-19. That led to a lot of postponements, and the most important ones included the Summer Olympics, the Wimbledon Championship and the World T20 Cricket tournament.

Let’s go through the year that changed it all, with the hope that now that there is a vaccine, there will soon be a medicine too and the coming year would be better, safer and enjoyable.

Films that managed to reach the audience!

The year 2020 wasn’t as bad as it could have been for cinema-goers; yes for at least half of the year, people couldn’t go to cinemas but that was for the audience’s protection. The remaining six months saw the release of some high profile live-action flicks, which included Robert Downey Jr’s Dolittle where he could communicate with animals; Sonic the Hedgehog where a superfast being from another dimension saves the world and himself from being captured and Mulan where a Chinese girl saves the Emperor, but only after disguising herself as a boy.

You got to meet Sherlock Holmes’ sister Enola Holmes on Netflix, while the year ended with the much-anticipated release of Wonder Woman 1984, where Gal Gadot did what she does best — save the world from falling into the wrong hands!

On the animated flick front, the year belonged to Onward and Scoob! and while the former was an emotional story revolving around two brothers, Scoob! showed the audience how best-friends-for-life Shaggy and Scooby-Doo met for the first time, and how the Mystery Inc. was formed.

The other big releases of the year included The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, Trolls World Tour, The Croods: A New Age and Soul gave the cinema-deprived audience the feeling that cinema exists even in testing times like these!

The worst of 2020 — sports postponements/cancellations

The year 2020 will go down in the history as the first year in which the Pakistan Super League was held in Pakistan — each and every match. The stadiums were alive in the first part of the tournament before Covid-19 struck and the organisers first had to hold matches without the crowd, before postponing the event till a better time. The matches were completed later in the year with Karachi Kings winning the trophy for the first time. But they lost their hard-working Coach Dean Jones during the postponement as he passed away suddenly during the break.

The year also ended on a disappointing note for Pakistan’s national team that went to New Zealand for a T20I and Test series, but the whole squad was first quarantined for two weeks as some players tested positive, then lost the Captain Babar Azam to an injury and were defeated by the hosts in the T20I series.

The year 2020 will also go down as the first one in recent history where the Olympic Games were postponed instead of cancelled, and the host country will organise it in the coming year as Tokyo 2020. The same is the case with ICC World T20, where the best teams were supposed to play for the trophy in Australia between 18 October and 15 November. However, the event was first postponed and later moved to India where it would be held in October–November 2021 with no change in format and teams.

Football wasn’t much different either, the Euro 2020 was moved forward to the same dates in 2021, while Copa America was moved forward to safeguard the players and the fans. The English Premier League, UEFA Champions League and other tournaments were held behind closed doors — meaning an empty stadium (or near-empty stadiums where a smaller crowd was allowed in later months).

The knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League will be held later in 2021, a change that was brought by the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe.

For the first time since 1945, the city of Wimbledon didn’t host the Tennis Grand Slam Wimbledon Championship because the world was at war with the pandemic! The 134th edition of the tournament was cancelled and the players who might have made it to the main rounds had it taken place were compensated financially.

However, Tennis fans were happy that the remaining three Grand Slams were held during the 12 months.

The Australian Open wasn’t hit by Covid-19 since it was held in the beginning of the year, but the other two were rescheduled to a better time. Spaniard Rafael Nadal won his 20th Grand Slam and his 13th French Open while in the fourth round of the US Open, world number one Novak Djokovic was defaulted after accidentally hitting a line official in the throat with a tennis ball.

That was the second biggest news of the year 2020 (after Wimbledon’s cancellation of course!) and left his fans very angry, who blamed the line official for not moving fast enough to evade the ball.

Cinema to rise with much-anticipated films in 2021

Let’s take a break for a change and talk about the upcoming year, one where the world might be cured of Covid-19 for good. In 2021, many films that were not released as planned in 2020 might see the light of the day, and with their release, the cinema industry might revive for the better.

The first film to hopefully hit the screen would be the live-action flick Tom and Jerry (February 26), featuring the iconic cartoon characters who are arch enemies-turned-friend-turned-arch enemies. A month later, The Boss Baby: Family Business would return with bigger ambitions while Jared Leto’s Morbius (March 19) would become the second Spider-Man villain to have his own flick.

Another Marvel character Black Widow (May 7) would follow the anti-hero a couple of months later and it will be a treat for the fans, because they want to see Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man appear on the screen once more. It would be possible here because the story is of Black Widow’s origin, hence set in a time where Tony Stark was alive.

Marvel Universe’s most popular villain Venom will return to the screen in Venom: Let There Be Carnage (June 25) where his story will continue; a week later Minions: The Rise of Gru would be in a cinema near you where the single-agenda Minions will help a 12-year-old Gru turn into the terrifying villain he went onto become.

Dolittle
Dolittle

And if that’s not enough, wait for another classic from the 1980s Ghostbusters: Afterlife (July 11) where Paul Rudd will lead the way and deal with beings many believe don’t even exist. The existence of Looney Tunes is a secret too, and basketball champion LeBron James will unveil it in Space Jam: A New Legacy (July 16) where he will meet Bugs Bunny and his gang and help them win a Basketball match to set them, and himself free!

Following the sequel to the legendary flick will be Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Emily Blunt’s Jungle Cruise (July 30) which hopes to go the Pirates of the Caribbean way, since it’s also based on a Disney theme park attraction of the same name.

And if you think that 2021 doesn’t have more in store, think again! The Suicide Squad (August 6) will return to save the world followed by the first-ever full-length adventure featuring the famous animated series Paw Patrol — Paw Patrol: The Movie (August 20).

Last but not the least, there will be Marvel’s Eternals (November 5) featuring Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Kumail Nanjiani, among others in the cast, will also make its appearance as will the Untitled Spider-Man Sequel (December 17), where all three actors to play Spider-Man this millennium will unite for the first time!

Sports resumption to have a positive impact!

Behind locked doors might be the keyword for sports activities in 2020, but with a vaccine available in many countries, there might be a resumption of sports activities where the crowds are present inside the stadium, the players would not have to go through quarantine and bowlers would be able to use their saliva on the cricket ball to make it do things in their favour.

Major events for 2021 include those games that were postponed last year like the Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics, the ICC World T20, the Euro 2020, and Copa America, as well as the return of the possible Wimbledon Tennis Championship.

The year will begin with the Australian Open that will be held in January; followed by the French Open in May-June and the Wimbledon Championship in June-July. If all goes well, the US Open will be held in August-September, just like it was held before Covid-19 played spoilsport. In between, sports fans will be kept busy first by Euro 2020 or the Copa America, which will be held in June and July, and the clash is due to the pandemic that made the organisers postpone the events in 2020. While in Euro 2020, Portugal will defend their title against the best 24 sides of Europe, Copa America will take place in Argentina and Colombia, where 12 teams will battle for supremacy.

And the biggest spectacle in the Sports world — the Summer Olympics — would take place in July and August, followed by the Paralympics Games in August and September. The best athletes from around the world will appear in the mega event that was supposed to take place in 2020, but was intelligently moved forward so that both the athletes and the spectators can enjoy the games as they are meant to be. The Olympics would have lost their meaning had they been held behind closed doors and thankfully, they might take place after the world had returned to normalcy!

Fans of cricket, especially in Pakistan, are waiting for the sixth season of the Pakistan Super League which would become the second consecutive event to take place in Pakistan. If all goes well, the spectators would be allowed to come in large numbers and fill the stadium like they are meant to be.

Fans of international cricket will also have their share of fun as they will be treated to ICC World T20 which will be held in India during October and November, marking the end of a year that would bring more smiles to the faces of Sports Fans than its predecessor.

Published in Dawn, Young World, December 26th, 2020

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