Year in Review
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Eileen Gu reactsafter completing her run during the women’s slopestyle finals at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Photo: AP

2022 year in review: from Djokovic deportation to Messi magic, the top 10 sports stories of the year

  • The death of Shane Warne rocked the cricketing world and was one of the biggest moments in a dramatic year of sport
  • As we say goodbye to an action-packed 12 months, we look back at news that shaped the year

It started with tennis superstar Novak Djokovic being deported from Australia and ended with Lionel Messi lifting the World Cup in Qatar, 2022 will go down as one of the more memorable years in sporting history.

Russian bans dominated headlines, as did the death of cricket legend Shane Warne. While it is hard to look past Lionel Messi leading Argentina to World Cup glory as the story of the year, here is our list of the 10 stories that shaped sport in 2022.

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic on his way to board a flight after Australia’s Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa. Photo: Reuters

Djokovic deported

Novak Djokovic flew to Melbourne in January hoping to capture a 10th Australian Open. However, the famously unvaccinated Serbian had his visa cancelled and was held in a hotel housing refugees before being deported on “health and good order” grounds.

Djokovic was also banned from travelling to the United States, ruling him out of the US Open but he managed to capture a seventh Wimbledon title in July.

Djokovic has been cleared to play in the 2023 Australian Open where he will be chasing a 22nd grand slam.

Russian Olympic Committee’s Kamila Valieva reacts during the Women’s Team Figure Skating competition at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Photo: dpa

Teenage doper

Kamila Valieva was at the centre of a doping scandal at the Beijing Winter Olympics. The Russian, who was 15 at the time, became the first woman to land a quadruple jump in Olympic competition, helping Russia secure gold in the team event.

It then emerged she had tested positive before the Games for trimetazidine, a drug used to treat angina but which is banned for athletes because it can boost endurance.

International sports court CAS allowed Valieva to continue competing at the Olympics, citing her young age, though without clearing her of doping. Valieva fell several times in the individual final and finished in fourth place.

Australian cricket legend Shane Warne died of a suspected heart attack, aged 52. Photo: EPA-EFE

A loss to cricket

The Australian cricketer Shane Warne died at a luxury resort in Thailand in March from a suspected heart attack, aged 52. Credited with reviving the art of leg-spin, Warne took 708 Test wickets as part of a dominant Australian team in the 1990s and 2000s before becoming a respected commentator.

“Looking forward to a future without Shane is inconceivable,” said heartbroken father Keith. “But we take comfort in knowing that Shane packed more into his life of 52 years, five months and 19 days than most people would in two lifetimes.”

Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan kisses the trophy after winning the women’s singles final against Ons Jabeur at Wimbledon. Photo: Kyodo

Russian bans

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February saw them and allies Belarus become outcasts of world sport. Russia were kicked out of the football World Cup and world athletics championships while tennis players from both nations were banned from Wimbledon.

However, Russian-born Elena Rybakina, representing Kazakhstan, won the women’s singles title at the All England Club.

Tensions were also evident at the US Open where Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

Eileen Gu became a household name in China after her performance at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Photo: Kyodo

Golden Gu

Eileen Gu entered the Beijing Winter Olympics as one of the more intriguing, if not controversial athletes. She left a bona fide star and a household name in China. After winning two gold medals and one silver, the California-born Gu now was the darling of the Beijing Olympics.

Her success at the Winter Games, her unblemished public persona, and a rare media savvy that crosses geographical lines, leaves the door wide open for a career in fashion, media, as a brand ambassador, a writer, academic, not to mention more competition.

Gu’s success at the Games made her a rare athlete who is able to bridge the divide between the United States, where she was born, and China, the country she decided represents as an athlete. The ease at which she was able to wear both hats has earned her millions of new fans both within and outside China.

A member of Team USA recovers USA’s Anita Alvarez from the bottom of the pool during an incident in the women’s solo free artistic swimming finals. Photo: AFP

Dramatic rescue

When 25-year-old American artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez passed out at the end of her solo routine at the World Championships in Budapest in June, her coach Andrea Fuentes plunged to the rescue. Dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, Fuentes dived to the bottom of the pool and dragged Alvarez to the surface.

“I think she was at least two minutes without breathing because her lungs were full of water,” said Fuentes. Alvarez quickly recovered but was prevented from competing again at the championships.

Bubba Watson (right) speaks while sitting next to Cameron Smith, Martin Kaymer, Kevin Na and Phil Mickelson during a press conference before the LIV Golf series at Trump National Doral. Photo: USA TODAY Sports

Deep pockets

Backed by the deep pockets of Saudi Arabia, LIV Golf got under way in July, splitting the sport as it attracted major winners such as Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau with pledges of multimillion dollar purses for 54-hole, no-cut tournaments.

The new circuit has been accused of “sportswashing” Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, and the US tours responded by suspending any players who competed in LIV events.

Roger Federer sheds a tear after playing his final match, a doubles with Spain’s Rafael Nadal. Photo: AFP

Federer retires

Tennis said goodbye to two of its greatest stars. Roger Federer, unable to shake off a lingering knee injury, called it quits at the age of 41 in September after a career which yielded 20 Grand Slams – a figure now passed by Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Federer collected 103 titles and banked US$130 million in prize money.

Serena Williams refused to use the word “retirement” when she played what was likely her final tournament at the US Open.

Now 41, the American said she was “evolving” away from tennis. She won 23 grand slam singles titles, was number one for 319 weeks and, according to Forbes, was worth $260 million in 2022.

Hans Niemann was accused of cheating. Photo: Instagram

Chess cheat

American grandmaster Hans Niemann was accused by Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen of cheating.

Niemann filed a law suit, seeking $100 million in damages from Carlsen, his company Play Magnus Group, Danny Rensch of, the world’s leading online chess platform, and American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura.

Carlsen publicly accused Niemann of cheating, and alleged in a report that the 19-year-old American has “probably cheated more than 100 times” in online games.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates winning the World Cup with the trophy. Photo: Reuters

Messi’s crowing glory

Lionel Messi led Argentina to World Cup glory with a penalty shoot-out triumph over France after an epic final in Doha finished 3-3 in extra-time.

Messi’s virtuoso performance sealed his status as one of the greatest players of all time, joining fellow icons Pele and Diego Maradona in an elite group.

The final has gone down as a modern classic, coming at the conclusion of one of the most controversial tournaments ever staged.