The draw for the 2021 HF Men's World Championship took place tonight in front of the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx ©IHF

The spectacular Giza Pyramids and Sphinx tonight provided the spectacular backdrop for the 2021 International Handball Federation (IHF) Men's World Championship draw which saw defending champions Denmark drawn in Group D.

A star-studded event was held at the Giza Pyramids Plateau, despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, with guests, including Egyptian Prime Minister Dr Mostafa Madbouli, treated to a wide variety of entertainment and the unveiling of the Championship's official mascot, Horus, the name of a sky god in ancient Egyptian mythology.

IHF Commission of Organising and Competition chairperson Per Bertelsen and IHF competitions director Patric Strub conducted the draw at the UNESCO World Heritage List site, assisted by senior Egypt players Ali Zein and captain Ahmed Elahmar, and Egypt’s 2019 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship winners, Abdelrahman Mohamed Homayed and Hassan Walid Ahmed.

The 27th edition of the IHF Men’s World Championship is the first to be played with 32 teams and due to be contested at three venues in Cairo - the Cairo Stadium Indoor Hall, The New Administrative Capital Hall and The 6th of October Hall - and one in Alexandria, The Borg El Arab Hall. 

As hosts, Egypt had the right to choose which group they were drawn into, and selected Group G for the Championship, due to take place between January 13 and 31. 

They will play alongside four-time world champions Sweden, whose most recent triumph in the tournament came the last time it was held in Egypt in 1999. 

Czech Republic, returning to the World Championship for the first time since 2005, and the South and Central America qualifier winner, set to be known in November, complete Group G. 

Debutants Uruguay and Cape Verde find themselves in a tough group, Group A, with Germany and Hungary.

Group B saw the very first team drawn this evening, as wild-card side Poland, bronze medallists at the 2015 IHF Men’s World Championship in Qatar, are set face Spain, who they beat in that match, alongside Tunisia and Brazil. 

Poland are due to co-host the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship with Sweden.

Just one European side are in Group C - continental silver medallists Croatia - where they will face 2020 Olympic Games hosts Japan, Angola and Asian and 2015 world champions Qatar.

Another debutant, Democratic Republic of the Congo, are due to go up against Bahrain, Denmark and Argentina in Group D.

A rematch of the 2017 IHF Men’s World Championship final between France and Norway is guaranteed in Group E, with the two sides joined by Austria and a qualifier from the North America and the Caribbean Handball Confederation.

The 2021 IHF Men's World Championship will be the first to feature 32 teams ©IHF
The 2021 IHF Men's World Championship will be the first to feature 32 teams ©IHF

Group F sees Morocco and Algeria meet again, after the Algerians beat their North African rivals - and neighbours - at the 2020 African Championship in Tunisia in January. 

They are joined by European sides Portugal, who return to World Championship for the first time since 2003, and 2008 Olympic Games bronze medallists Iceland.

The final group, Group H, features another wild card - Russia - who lost that final in Egypt in 1999.

They will beagainst 2017 IHF Men’s World Championship bronze medallists Slovenia, Asian runners-up South Korea and Belarus.

The match schedule is due to be released later this year. 

Dr Hazem Khamis, chairman of the IHF Medical Commission, revealed that every country competing in the tournament will have a its own special COVID-19 officer to monitor the health of its team.

"The COVID officer will be in direct contact with the medical staff of all teams to deliver and follow any medical updates about the players," said Khamis.