ABU DHABI - The curtain came down on the Academy Awards on Monday but the Laureus World Sports Awards, dubbed the Oscars of sports, will be well represented by Hollywood notables during its gala ceremony on Wednesday night in Abu Dhabi.
Hollywood film star Kevin Spacey, who won Oscars for his roles in The Usual Suspects and American Beauty, will be the host of the ceremony while hugely popular British film stars Hugh Grant and Clive Owen will also be among the special guests at the awards, along with American actors Kyle MacLachlan, who is well known for his role in Desperate Housewives, and Michelle Rodriguez, who plays Trudy Chacon in Avatar and was Ana Lucia Cortez in the TV series Lost.
Meanwhile, numerous sports legends are also expected to show up at the annual event, including German soccer great "Der Kaiser", Franz Beckenbauer, Olympic 400m champion Cathy Freeman, tennis legend Boris Becker and former two-time 400m hurdles Olympic champion Edwin Moses, who is also the president of the Laureus Sports Academy.
The Laureus World Sports Awards, which on Wednesday will recognize sporting achievements during the period Jan 1 - Dec 31, 2009, are the premier honors on the international sporting calendar.
Last year's winner of the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, Usain Bolt, and four-time winner Roger Federer have been nominated again for the award, along with FC Barcelona's precocious young soccer player, Lionel Messi, long-distance runner Kenenisa Bekele, Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and Italy's seven-time senior MotoGP champion, Valentino Rossi.
Meanwhile, two-time Laureus winner Serena Williams is nominated for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award after winning two Grand Slam titles last year. Also short-listed are swimmers Federica Pellegrini and Britta Steffen, athletes Shelly-Ann Fraser and Sanya Richards and US ski racer Lindsey Vonn.
The winners of seven categories, as voted by the Laureus World Sports Academy, will be revealed during the televised ceremony at the Emirates Palace hotel, which cost $3 billion.