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Hosting major events is about looking forward, not backJuly 25, 2023

Earlier this month we presented the 2023 BCW Ranking of Sport Cities - for the first time 100 cities, an addition of 50 cities, from around the world that are perceived to be most associated with sport.

The ranking is based on the views of International Federations and sports industry experts, combined with an analysis of the association between sport and a city in the digital space.

One year before the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, Paris jumped to the top of the ranking, just ahead of Los Angeles, the 2028 host. London secures its position in the top three, while New York sits at fourth place. Manchester joins the top five cities club. Last year's winner, Tokyo, drops seven ranks.

The 2023 showed that forging partnerships with sports giants is gamechanger for cities. By aligning themselves with renowned brands such as the Olympics, FIFA, and major professional leagues, cities have a powerful platform to captivate the world's attention and build their reputation as prestigious sports cities. Renowned sports brands possess the ability to create a magnetic pull. They not only contribute to a city's sporting heritage but also become an integral part of its cultural fabric, igniting pride and enthusiasm among residents and attracting visitors.

This year’s ranking also reflected the fact that building a reputation as a top sports city isn't a sprint; it's a marathon. The cities that reign supreme in the rankings are those that embarked on this journey long ago, integrating sports into their strategies and culture. There are no quick fixes or shortcuts to success. Only a handful of relatively new players in the game rank in the top 25 cities. Doha (Rank 11), Dubai (Rank 19), and Abu Dhabi (Rank 21) are some of the exceptions and have managed to establish themselves in a relatively short period of time.

The most significant learning from the 2023 ranking was, however, a reminder of something, which we in BCW have studied for quite some time. The path to victory for a city hosting a major event lies in the ability of the city to seize the moment before major events, rather than after.

The anticipation, excitement, and preparation leading up to the event are crucial in capturing the world's attention and establishing a city's prominence.

Paris ranked first in the 2023 Sports Cities Ranking despite not yet hosting the Olympic Games. Similarly, Brisbane's impressive debut in 15th position demonstrates the value of being included in the top rankings a remarkable nine years before the Games are scheduled to take place.

At the same Tokyo dropped to seven ranks just within a year after hosting the Games, and Rio de Janeiro now ranks 74. So much for “lasting legacy”!

To keep the magic of hosting major events alive, cities need to actively evolve and adapt their hosting strategies in order to identify what comes next. Hosting major events is about looking forward, not back.