China’s Liu Cuiqing was nominated for the disability category on Wednesday with Boccia player Leung Yuk Wing from Hong Kong, China also in this category.
The 17th edition of the Laureus World Sports Awards will be held on April 18 in Berlin.
Djokovic, who won three Grand Slam titles, Bolt, who won three gold medals at the world athletics championships, and Messi, who won the 2015 Ballon d’Or, are joined by Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton, American basketballer Stephen Curry and golfer Jordan Spieth.
In the best female athlete category, 2015 winner Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia was again named, along with Jamaica’s 100m world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, U.S. tennis star Serena Williams, who came close to winning all four Grand Slam titles, Alpine skiing world champion Anna Fenninger of Austria, U.S. swimmer Katie Ledecky and American footballers Carli LLoyd.
New Zealand’s rugby team, the All Blacks, are in the running for the team award having successfully defended their crown at the 2015 Rugby World Cup hosted by England.
Liu, a 24-year-old visually impaired athlete, won four women’s T11 titles at her first ever World Championships, in Doha. With guide Donglin Xu, she beat favorite Terezinha Guilhermina, the world and Paralympic champion. She comfortably won the 100 meters, set new Asian records in the 200m and 400m and was part of the winning women’s 4x100m T11-T13 relay team.