Stars ready to play at Wednesday's World Sports Awards

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The Independent Online

A wealth of Hollywood stars have jetted in to the UAE center of Abu Dhabi this week, ready to rub elbows with their own athletic idols at the 10th Laureus World Sports Awards.

And sports fans all over the world can keep up with the awards as they are announced on Wednesday night starting at 7:30 PM local time (3:30 PM GMT), too, via the Laureus website (http://www.laureus.com/), or its Twitter page (http://twitter.com/laureussport).

Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey will host the awards while the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, British actors Hugh Grant and Clive Owen have also been seen milling around the grounds of the city's sprawling Emirates Palace hotel complex, which will host the event.

The event is recognized as the premiere international honor given out in the sporting world. Its only real rival is the annual ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly )awards - run by broadcaster ESPN - but those awards concentrate on achievements in North American sports.

Past winners of World Sports Awards have included tennis player Roger Federer, sprinter Usain Bolt and golfer Tiger Woods. The award for sportswoman of the year has in the past been hoisted by tennis player Justine Henin, runner Kelly Holmes and tennis player Serena Williams.

"It is important that we move the event out into the world,'' said Edwin Moses, chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, explaining the choice of venue for this year's event, which has previously been held in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

"We have 146 athletes here as guests and think that it will be our biggest year in terms of names. But really it is a celebration of international athletic achievement and over 10 years now we have honored some of the true greats of the sporting world.''

Among those hoping to lift the Laureus trophies this year are Federer and Bolt, again, who will be up against athlete Kenenisa Bekele, cyclist Alberto Contador, footballer Lionel Messi and motorcycling's Valentino Rossi.

Williams too is back in the running for the women's award against athletes Shelly-Ann Fraser and Sanya Richards, swimmers Federica Pellegrini and Britta Steffen and skier Lindsey Vonn.

Nominations for the World Sports Awards are decided each year by more than 200 international sports editors and writers.

The World Sports Awards will also be broadcast on television international and organizers of the event suggested fans check their regional TV listings for details on when the event would be shown.

MS

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