The Laureus World Sports Awards are set to be held virtually for the second successive year ©Laureus

Organisers have confirmed that the Laureus World Sports Awards are set to return virtually in April this year, with nominees to be announced next week.

There are seven nominated categories for the awards - sportsman, sportswoman, team, breakthrough, comeback, disability and action sports.

A Sport for Good Award aims to recognise community-based programmes, while winners of special awards, which in the past have included fields such as lifetime achievement, spirit of sport and athlete advocacy, are to be selected by the 71-member Laureus World Sports Academy.

Last year's Laureus Awards were held virtually for the first time, with Seville in Spain hosting the ceremony in May.

Citing "ongoing limitations and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic", it was confirmed that the 2022 winners are again set to be announced online in April.

For nominated awards, a panel of 1,300 sports journalists is to select a shortlist, which is due to be revealed on Wednesday (February 2).

The Laureus Academy, featuring a host of sports stars including Olympic gold medallists and world champions, is then to vote on the winners.

American tennis player Billie Jean King won a Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award at last year's virtual ceremony ©Laureus
American tennis player Billie Jean King won a Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award at last year's virtual ceremony ©Laureus

Laureus plans to broadcast presentations of the awards through its social media platforms.

Sean Fitzpatrick, a winner of the inaugural Rugby World Cup with New Zealand in 1987, is chairs the Laureus World Sports Academy.

After a year that included the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and football's men's European Championship, he is expecting the awards in all categories to be hotly contested.

"We know for sure, after such an amazing and challenging year for sport, that 2022 will be an Awards to remember," Fitzpatrick said.

"The Academy are certainly going to have a difficult job selecting the winners from so many outstanding sportsmen, sportswomen and teams."

Tennis stars Rafael Nadal of Spain and Naomi Osaka of Japan were named sportsman and sportswoman of the year, respectively, last year, with German football club Bayern Munich taking global team prize.

Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot took the comeback honour, with the American footballer Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs won the breakthrough honour.

Retired American tennis player Billie Jean King earned a special lifetime award, while British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton won the inaugural award for athlete advocacy.