Fitness and wellness events, training camps for children, international competitions, sporting exhibitions, and some of the world’s greatest athletes have actively engaged more than 500,000 participants and spectators throughout the six-month run of Expo 2020 Dubai – making it the most active World Expo ever.
With more than 30,000 events taking place over 180 days, the Expo 2020 site has been a hive of activity, with the Sports, Fitness and Wellbeing Hub alone providing 3,094 hours of sports programming and activities, playing host to some 6,000 sports, fitness and wellbeing classes and sessions. The International Pavilions, as well as Expo 2020 Dubai’s partners and departments, participated in the football, basketball and volleyball leagues, entering 250 teams.
Offering a diverse range of activities for all ages, interests and fitness levels, Expo 2020 Dubai’s Sports, Fitness and Wellbeing Hub, next to Mobility Gate, offers a state-of-the-art gym, five-a-side football pitch, two ‘Big Bash’ cricket nets, a multi-purpose court for basketball, netball, volleyball and tennis, and a global fitness stage with daily classes to get the blood pumping. It also played a crucial role in the city’s core fitness villages over the 30 days of the Dubai Fitness Challenge 2021.
Comprising the Sports Fitness and Wellbeing Hub Programme – which actively engaged more than 100 International Pavilions – the Expo Sports Arena Programme, runs, bike rides, Surreal yoga – with 21 unique morning yoga classes – Q&A sessions, meet and greets, and sports lounge activities, Expo 2020 Dubai was the place to be to smash fitness goals.
Promoting an active lifestyle and equipping children with essential life skills such as teamwork and sportsmanship, the Sports, Fitness and Wellbeing Hub’s extensive children’s sports programme saw the likes of Manchester City, AC Milan and Rajasthan Royals providing once-in-a-lifetime sessions for both boys and girls.
An eclectic mix of sporting events were hosted across the Expo 2020 Dubai site including the World Arial Gymnastics Championships, World Ten Pin Bowling Championships, World Muay Thai, World 3 on 3 Basketball, and the World Chess Championships.
Another undeniable highlight was the Expo 2020 Dubai Run trilogy, with the third and final run in the series on 26 March seeing 15,000 athletes cross the finishing line in 3km, 5km and 10km categories. In addition to this, Expo 2020 Dubai hosted 22 Run the Worlds, and 182 days of the Expo 2020 Running Club.
Kevin Brown, Vice President Master Calendar-Events and Entertainment, Expo 2020 Dubai said: “Sports, fitness and wellbeing has become an integral part of the eclectic mix of activities and entertainment here at Expo 2020. Together with the input of so many partners and official participants, we are proud to have delivered the most active World Expo on record, while amplifying Dubai’s reputation as being one of the fittest cities in the world.
“We are also privileged to have welcomed so many of the biggest icons and legends of world sport, including Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lewis Hamilton, Usain Bolt, Pep Guardiola, Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki, to name but a few.”
The Icons Wall at the Sports, Fitness and Wellbeing Hub is a veritable who’s who of international sporting superstars, featuring the likes of Spanish right back Miguel Ángel Míchel Salgado Fernández (5 October); Indian premiere league cricketers, The Rajasthan Royals (8 October); iconic American exhibition basketballers, The Harlem Globetrotters (29 and 30 October); Giro d’Italia Criterium cyclists Peter Sagan, Egan Bernal and Marc Hischi (6 November); the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt (13 November); Spanish professional football manager and former player, Pep Guardiola (15 November); the Kenyan running team including Jonathan Maiyo, Ferdinand Omanyala and Bethwel Yegon (18 November); one of the most successful players in UEFA Champions League history, Clarence Seedorf (19 November); Pakistani bowling phenomenon, Wasim Akram (26 November); legendary Portuguese mid-fielder Luis Figo (10 December); one of the greatest footballers of all time, Lionel Messi (13 December); pioneering chess Grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili (13 December); Bayern Munich player and Polish captain, Robert Lewandowski (18 December); and UEFA Women's Player of the Year, Alexia Putellas (30 December).
The year 2022 kicked off with two-time former unified world heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua OBE (6 January); American professional golfer, Collin Morikawa (6 February); free-kick football specialist, Brazil’s Roberto Carlos (24 January); Europe’s most-capped player, Cristiano Ronaldo (28 January); the most expensive English player in history, Jack Grealish (28 January); Bulgaria’s Rhythmic Gymnastics team who won gold at Tokyo 2020 (8 February); the Ivory Coast’s all-time top scorer, Didier Drogba (11 February); Danish former professional tennis sensation, Caroline Wozniacki; former world number 1 tennis player Kim Clijsters; the king of on-court temper tantrums, John McEnroe (all on 18 February), joint-record World Drivers’ Championships holder, Sir Lewis Hamilton (14 March); and one of the greatest goalkeepers of all times, Spain’s Iker Casillas (19 March).
Because Expo 2020 Dubai never does anything by halves, it topped off the action-packed sporting calendar with a first-of-its-kind historic event: the Abraham Accords Games, which saw footballers from the UAE, Israel and Bahrain take on international legends including Ricardo Kaká, Carles Puyol, Robert Pires and Clarence Seedorf in a spirited match in front of a supercharged crowd.
During his visit, Usain Bolt summed up the significance of sport succinctly: “Sport has been used for many, many years to unite people across the world.” And if there’s one thing that Expo 2020 Dubai has triumphed in, it’s been connecting people from across the globe to create a happier, healthier planet.”