The duo received the same number of votes, a first in the 20-year history of the awards with the jury unable to split Hamilton and Messi. Messi, the six-time FIFA World Player of the year, is the first team-player to bag the award. He though was not present to receive the award on Monday and sent a video message. They pipped golfing great Tiger Woods, Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge, tennis legend Rafael Nadal and MotoGP champion Marc Marquez.
American gymnast Simone Biles, who won five gold medals at the 2019 World Championships, grabbed the World Sportswoman of the year award, her third in four years after winning it in 2017 and 2019. She beat a strong challenge from Jamaican sprinting great Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who missed out on the honour for the fifth time. She was nominated in 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2016 also but did not win it. The most decorated gymnast also beat competition from American footballer Megan Rapinoe, Japanese tennis sensation Naomi Osaka, American track and field athlete Allyson Felix and skier Mikaela Shiffrin.
The awards ceremony was hosted by actor Hugh Grant. A tribute was paid to American basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who recently died in a helicopter crash. Snowboarding sensation Chloe Kim won the World Action Sportsperson honour, her second straight in the same category. In the Sportsperson of the year with a disability category, Oksana Masters, born with limb impairments caused by radiation from Chernobyl and adopted by an American single parent, was recognised for an outstanding year in 2019. She won five gold medals and a silver at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships.
South Bronx United (SBU), a football programme based in New York, was honoured with the Sport for Good Award. The programme uses football to achieve educational outcomes for young people from underserved communities. The 2019 Rugby World Cup winners South Africa won their second Laureus World Team of the Year Award, beating Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and the US Women’s Football Team, among others.
For the 2020 Laureus World Comeback of the Year, Germany’s gritty F3 driver Sophia Florsch was the winner. Travelling at 276km per hour, she had lost control of her car at the Macau circuit, crashing through safety barriers and leaving her with a spinal fracture which required an 11-hour surgery and months of rehabilitation. In November 2019, a year on from her accident, the 18-year-old Sophia was back in the cockpit, racing once again in the Macau Grand Prix.
Egan Bernal, who became the youngest rider to win the Tour de France at 22, grabbed the World Breakthrough of the Year award. German basketball great Dirk Nowitzki was recognised at the Ceremony with the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the sport of basketball. Spanish Basketball Federation got the Exceptional Achievement Award.