Among major upcoming sporting events, the IX South American Games draw to a close in Medellín, Colombia, the gruelling Marathon des Sables starts its ten+day trek across the Sahara, and the glamour and glory of Formula One descends upon Malaysia.
Horseracing: Dubai World Cup
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
With a prize fund totalling $10 million (€7.5m), the Dubai World Cup can boast the title of being the richest horse race in the world. A two-minute sprint over 2,000 meters nets the winning horse and rider the lion's share, and there are seven other supporting races to complete the day's card and bring the event's total value up to $26 million (€19.5m). Elton John and Carlos Santana play out the day as part of the post-race festivities, and the Meydan Racecourse is also home to the world's first trackside hotel.
Motor sports: Red Bull Air Race, Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The first race of the 2010 season takes place in Abu Dhabi and last year's champion Paul Bonhomme has been turning in some excellent performances during the week's practice sessions. Bonhomme will be looking to dominate the competition early, having finished second in the previous two seasons - the fastest qualifier during Friday's qualifying session accrues a bonus championship point so in that sense the race for the Championship has already begun. Hospitality options start from $270 (€205).
Wrestling: Osaka Grand Sumo Tournament
One of six Grand Tournaments held throughout the year, each of the events' 15 days sees wrestling action take place from early morning (8:30am) to late afternoon (5pm) across several divisions, with top wrestlers performing last, and the colorful ritual Bow Ceremony at the end of each day. General admission tickets are 2,000 YEN (€16), while any remaining box seats would be in the region of 10,300 YEN (€83) first hand.
Rugby Union: IRB Sevens World Series
Hong Kong, China
The 12 core national sides are again joined by four guest nations, this time in Australia, March 19-21. Australia, in fifth place overall, will be looking to make their home advantage count. Tickets for this leg of the tour cost between $17 AUD (€11) for general admission on the first night to $200 AUD (€130) for a three-day family pass. The Hong Kong stage features a bumper 24 teams, adult day tickets for that are $1,250 HK (€120).
Motor racing: World Powerboat Championship, Races 1 & 2
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Following on from the UAE's Team Victory achieving a Championship grand slam over the course of 2009, 2010 roars to life in Rio with the first two races of a seven-stage international tour that goes on to Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf. As Rio's main event site is Marina de Glória at the mouth of Guanabara Bay, the race can be seen from Eduardo Gomes beach and even Sugarloaf Mountain.
Formula One: Australian Grand Prix
Second in the 2010 F1 schedule, the famous Melbourne track welcomes the series' hopefuls for 58 laps of its 5.3km (3.3mi) circuit around Albert Park. General admission tickets are $99 AUD (€65) for an adult on race day or $198 (€131) for a four-day pass, while single day tickets for the Schumacher Grandstand are $199 (€132), with further areas available as four-day packages.
IX South American Games
Though in the past the games featured regional sports such as bocce, a variant on bowls, and popular soccer derivative futsal, this year's South American Games go for more standard Olympic fare with sports such as swimming, cycling, fencing, martial arts, weightlifting, and of course track & field. Of the 13 participating nations, host nation Colombia go into the final few days leading the medals tally, Brazil and Venezuela are in second and third respectively.
Endurance: 25th Marathon des Sables
Sahara Desert, Morocco
The Sand Marathon certainly has earned its reputation of being the toughest footrace on earth. Contestants must be almost entirely self-sufficient over the six-day, 254km (156mi) ultra marathon. Over 700 participants are expected to amass at this year's starting line, while families and curious onlookers can observe their progress via videos and interviews on the Marathon website.
Formula One: Malaysian Grand Prix
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Michael Schumacher could tie 1970s Formula One legend John MacDonald for the privilege of having won the most races at the Sepang circuit if he crosses the finish line first here. Tickets are 200 MYR / €44 on the hill (100 MYR without roof covering), main grandstand passes are in the region of 1,200 - 2,600 MYR / €265 - 575. The more expensive tickets include access to the accompanying Wyclef Jean / Fatboy Slim concert.
Golf: US Masters Tournament
Augusta, Georgia, USA
The 74th Masters Tournament is the first of four major PGA golf championship in 2010. Of those four, the Masters has the most stringent qualification requirements, and typically under 100 professionals and a few top amateurs take to the course. Those numbers comprise the elite players who managed to finish among the top 50 Official World Golf Rankings of 2009, added to which are select champions from previous Masters and majors, and the very best from other prestigious 2009 tournaments.
MotoGP: Qatar Grand Prix
The first of eighteen MotoGPs in 2010 is also the only night race of the season, taking advantage of the Losail International Circuit's permanent outdoor lighting which went on to inspire a similar setup at Yas Marina nearby in Abu Dhabi. There are several new faces and new teams across the classes, the replacement of the 250cc class with 600cc Moto2 bikes. Concerning the top-level MotoGP race, Ducati's Casey Stoner has been in fine form at Losail over the last three years, consistently besting six-time MotoGP champ Valentino Rossi of Yamaha both to pole position and the finish line.
Extreme: Red Bull X Fighters World Tour
Mexico City, Mexico
The first stop-off in the six-stage, six-month tour takes in Mexico City once again as top freestyle motocross maniacs pull tricks and stunts inside the Plaza de Toros. After that, the riders visit Giza, Egypt in May, Moscow in Russia in June, Madrid in Spain in July, London in the UK in August, before a month's rest and the final in Rome, Italy, where the World Tour Champion will be crowned. Stadium passes are $295 MXN ($24 / €17).
Basketball: NBA Playoffs
April 17 onwards
The NBA postseason starts on April 17th and between now and then, teams from the Eastern and Western conferences are jostling for the 16 playoff places. Once the playoffs start, each matchup is a seven-game series, so the date of the Championship Finals and indeed the grand final itself aren't possible to specify in advance. However, the two finalists typically settle the title by mid to late June. US broadcasting rights are split between ABC, ESPN and TNT, though of course the NBA TV network will also be covering the games.
Motor sports: Red Bull Air Race
The second Red Bull Air Race of the season stops off in Perth, Australia, flying over the Swan River with qualifying on April 17 and the racing itself on April 18.
Formula One: Chinese Grand Prix
This year's hopefuls in the driver and manufacturer championships will head to Shanghai for the fourth race in the 2010 Formula One calendar.
Sailing: Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally
April 23 - June 28
The aim of the amateur EMYR is to cover 1585 nautical miles (1825mi / 2940km) over the course of 67 days, taking in Northern Cyprus, Syria, the Lebanon, Egypt, on the way from Turkey's capital Istanbul before finishing in Herzliya in Israel. Twenty-four ports in total make up the six-country course, which also includes 12 world heritage sites.
Tennis: Fed Cup Semifinals
Rome, Italy and Brimingham, USA
The Italian and WTA number 11 Flavia Pennetta will be joined by Sara Errani, Francesca Schiavone, and Roberta Vinci in hosting the Czech Republic's WTA Doubles number 8 Kv?ta Peschke and her compatriots Iveta Benešová, Petra Kvitová, and Lucie Šafá?ová at the Stadio Nicola Pietrangeli. Meanwhile, WTA joint number one Liezel Huber of the USA will be playing with Christina McHale, Melanie Oudin, and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in Birmingham, Alabama against the Russian ladies' team of Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva, Nadia Petrova and Anna Chakvetadze.