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Yearender: World's top sports news in 2017

Xinhua,December 28, 2017 Adjust font size:

BEIJING, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Following are the world's top sports news in 2017 selected by Xinhua news Agency:

- The FIFA Council decided to expand the FIFA World Cup to a 48-team competition as of the 2026 edition on January 10 in Zurich.

The 48 teams will be split into 16 groups of three. Top two teams from each group will advance to the 32-team knockout stage.

- AlphaGo, DeepMind's artificial intelligence Go-playing program, will never compete with human beings after defeating world's top-ranked player Ke Jie for the third consecutive game between them in Wuzhen, China, on May 27.

AlphaGo beat South Korea's world champion Lee Sedol 4-1 in 2016.

- 36-year-old Roger Federer and 31-year-old Rafael Nadal combined to sweep the men's singles titles at the four Grand Slam tournaments in 2017.

Federer won the Australian Open and Wimbledon Championships to lift his career total to 19 Grand Slam titles. Nadal won the French Open for a record 10th time and the US Open.

- Jamaica's Usain Bolt, the 11-time world champion and eight-time Olympic gold medalist, retired at the world athletics championships in London on August 13.

'Lightning' Bolt finished third in his last 100m race with 9.95 second in London.

- The International Olympic Committee officially awarded Paris the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics and Los Angeles the 2028 Games following a unanimous vote on September 13.

- The IOC officially recognized "eSports" as a sport in October.

The Olympic Council of Asia announced in April that "eSports" will be included in the program of the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou.

- The qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia concluded on November 15. Iceland, Panama will make their debut in the World Cup finals, while traditional powerhouses Italy, the Netherlands, Chile and the United States failed to qualify for the 32-team tournament. For the first time five teams from Asia will appear in soccer's premier event.

- Russia has been banned from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics for "unprecedented systematic manipulation" of the anti-doping system at the 2014 Sochi Games.

However, in a bid to protect "innocent athletes" the door has been left open for Russians to compete as an "Olympic Athlete of Russia", as long as they satisfy strict conditions that show they have a doping-free background.

- Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded his fifth Ballon d'Or on December 7, matching the feat of Barcelona forward Lionel Messi as the player to have won the prize the most times.

The 32-year-old also won the FIFA Best Men's Player of the Year award in October.

- The emblems for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, respectively named "Winter Dream" and "Flying High," were unveiled in Beijing on December 15. Enditem