LAUSANNE, February 4th, 2021 – While COVID-19 caused many professional sporting events to be paused, cancelled altogether or reconfigured within bubbles in 2020, New York maintained its number-one ranking on the annual BCW Ranking of Sports Cities, which identifies the cities most associated with sports. New York edged out London and Los Angeles, which ranked second and third, respectively, to take the top spot. Barcelona, a newcomer in the top five this year, ranks fourth, with Paris in fifth position.

With each edition of the ranking, the three lowest ranked cities drop off the list and the top three non-listed cities named by survey respondents are added. New cities that have been added to the 2021 edition of the ranking are: Birmingham (GBR), Jeddah (KSA) and Abu Dhabi (UAE), which mark a strong sign of the increasing role of the Gulf region in the international sports event market.

Lars Haue-Pedersen, BCW Managing Director – BCW Sports, said:

“In a year of postponement, rescheduling, relocation and modifications for sporting events, it is more interesting than ever to discover the extent to which cities are associated with sport. The organisation of events became uncertain, tourism was banned, and cities could no longer benefit from the degree of international exposure that is linked to hosting events. As a result, cities were forced to make different strategic choices when it came to sports.”

“This year’s results confirm the trends we have been observing for some time in sports and cities. The cities whose image are largely associated with sports are either hosting major international sporting events or are home to renowned professional sports teams that promote the city’s name week after week – as in the case of New York. Sport has a powerful ability to attract, engage and move people, and through an integrated, audience-centric approach, sporting events and professional teams can become excellent vehicles for promoting a city internationally and creating economic impact.”

Download the BCW 2021 Ranking of Sports Cities here.

About the Study

The BCW ‘Ranking of Sports Cities’ evaluates top 50 sports cities from around the world based on a quantitative digital footprint analysis of the association between sport and a city (weighting 50 percent), combined with the perception-based views of leaders of International Sports Federations (25 percent) and major international sports media (25 percent).

About BCW

BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe), one of the world’s largest full-service global communications agencies, is in the business of moving people on behalf of clients. BCW delivers digitally and data-driven creative content and integrated communications programs grounded in earned media and scaled across all channels for clients in the B2B, consumer, corporate, crisis management, , healthcare, sport, public affairs, purpose and technology sectors. BCW is a part of WPP (NYSE: WPP), a creative transformation company. For more information, visit


BCW Sports, Stefany Cardenas, BCW Switzerland