Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Your guide to international sports tournaments in Mexico 

Mexico is home to some of the world’s most exciting sporting events. From Formula One to the PGA Golf Tour, fans from all over the world flock to Mexico to experience the spectacle.

Aside from the annual competitions, Mexico has hosted two World Cups and will soon see a third one in 2026, when Mexico will host a third time, shared with the United States and Canada. 

Mexico City’s iconic Estadio Azteca will play host to a record third FIFA World Cup. (Cuartoscuro)

So, if you’ve traditionally thought of Mexico as a holiday destination only, think again – it is also a sporting one.  

Telcel Mexican Open 

Acapulco, a city on the Pacific coast, became popular among the rich and famous in the 1960s. It was Mexico’s first international tourist port and its cliff divers at La Quebrada are iconic. The city has also been the setting for a James Bond movie – 1989’s Licence to Kill – and Elvis Presley’s “Fun in Acapulco.”

Since 1993, Acapulco has also been home to one of 13 ATP 500 tournaments held annually across the globe. Taking place between late February and early March the Mexican Open is the fourth-highest tier of annual men’s tennis tournaments.

Alex de Minaur.
This year’s Mexican Open champion, Alex de Minaur. (Mexican Open)

The tournament initially took place in Mexico City on clay courts, before shifting to hard courts at the Hotel Fairmont Acapulco Princess (now known as the Hotel Princess Mundo Imperial) in 1998.

Some of the best players in the world have set foot in Acapulco, with Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, and Thomas Muster holding four Mexican Open titles apiece.

PGA Mexico Open and LIV Golf 

With nearly 200 golf courses and a year-round warm climate that provides near perfect golfing conditions, it comes as little surprise that major golf tournaments take place in Mexico. 

Patrick Cantlay at the Mexican Open
Patrick Cantlay at last year’s Mexican Open. (PGA Mexican Open/X)

Nuevo Vallarta and the Riviera Maya are some of Mexico’s most popular destinations for beachgoers combining lush jungle and extraordinary beaches. With both tournaments happening in some of the country’s most exclusive resorts, visitors can combine the excitement of a top-of-the-class sporting event with a luxurious vacation. 

Since 1944, the Mexican Open has been the national open golf tournament of Mexico. In 2022, the tournament became an official event on the PGA Tour with a purse of US $7.3 million and 500 FedEx Cup points for the winner. 

Played at the Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta hotel, along the Pacific coast of Jalisco and Nayarit, it is the only PGA Tour tournament in Mexico and Latin America. It usually takes place between March and April.

Rivaling the PGA tour, LIV Golf hosted its first-ever tournament in Latin America at Mayakoba’s El Camaleón Golf course in 2023 – ranked as one of the top courses in Mexico – in the Riviera Maya. World-class golfers, including Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Cameron Smith, and Phil Mickelson, competed for the first-place prize, with Charles Howell III eventually crowned the winner.

Formula 1

Mexico has long been part of the Formula 1 story, but it wasn’t until recently that the need for speed was reignited with the return of the Mexican Grand Prix and the brilliant performance of Checo Pérez – Mexico’s most successful driver of all time.

Sergio "Checo" Perez hold the winners trophy aloft at the 2023 Saudi Arabia GP.
His recent victory in Jeddah makes for Pérez’s fifth career win. (@redbullracing/Twitter)

The first Mexican Grand Prix was a non-championship race in 1962. Tragically, Mexican driver Ricardo Rodriguez – one of the brothers for whom the circuit is now named – was killed in practice, at just 20 years old. 

The following year, the event was added to the official championship and became a mainstay of the calendar until 1970. Crowd trouble forced the cancellation of the race, but it later returned to the championship between 1986 and 1992, when it was once again canceled after the circuit was deemed unsafe. After an extensive renovation of the track to meet the F1 standards, the Mexican Grand Prix came back in 2015 and is still running to this day. 

In its latest version, the new track layout has become an icon of modern Formula One by having a track wind through a baseball stadium: the Foro Sol is also used as a concert site. 

The event’s unique fiesta vibe saw the race organizers claim the Best Promoter award for four consecutive years from 2015 to 2018. It also won the coveted accolade for Best Live Sporting Event at the 2019 Leaders Sports Awards in London, England.

The Formula 1 audience in Mexico has grown year-on-year thanks in part to “Checomanía,” the phenomenon surrounding Checo Pérez, who’s a 6-time Grand Prix winner and the only Mexican and Latin American driver in the Formula 1 grid. 

Guadalajara Open Akron 

Paula Badosa
Paula Badosa at the WTA Guadalajara Open. (WTA)

Taking place from Sept. 17 to 23 this year, Guadalajara will see the second edition of the Akron Guadalajara Open, one of the WTA’s high-level women’s tennis tournaments. 

Played on hard courts, the tournament brings a mix of established players and up-and-coming talent. In its first edition last year, the tournament saw players like Maria Sakkari, Victoria Azarenka, and Jessica Pegula, with the latter crowned as the tournament’s winner. 

Micky Lawler, president of the WTA Tour, has said that the Mexican crowd understands and appreciates tennis, which is what “excites them the most.” 

Guadalajara is the second-biggest city in Mexico. With nearby attractions like the towns of Tlaquepaque, Tequila – yes, the place that saw the birth of the Mexican agave spirit – and the Colonia Americana neighborhood – recently declared Time Out’s coolest neighborhood in the world – Guadalajara makes for a cosmopolitan, cultural, and fun tourist destination.  

2026 FIFA World Cup

The biggest prize in football – and the most widely watched sporting event in the world – returns to Mexico in 2026, to a country where passion for soccer bursts in every corner.  

The 1986 World Cup saw the controversial “Hand of God,” when Argentina’s Diego Maradona was awarded the winning goal, despite using his hands. (Wikimedia)

Having hosted the 1970 and 1986 events, Mexico will become the first country to host three World Cups. 

Taking place in the summer of 2026, the World Cup will be jointly hosted by 16 cities in three countries: the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It will be the largest in FIFA World history.

Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey will be hosting 10 soccer games in Mexico, while Canada will see the same number in Toronto and Vancouver. Meanwhile, the remaining 60 games will be played in the cities of Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle in the U.S.

The World Cup is a great opportunity to travel to Mexico and watch a soccer game in one of football’s truly iconic sporting locations: the Azteca Stadium. This stadium witnessed the infamous “The Hand of God” goal and the “Goal of the Century,” both scored by Diego Maradona against England, en route to winning the World Cup. 

Renovation of Mexico’s biggest stadium – the eighth-largest in the world – will require an investment of US 1.5 billion and will see the redevelopment of the Santa Úrsula neighborhood of historic Coyoacán. 

By Mexico News Daily writer Gabriela Solís

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