Sports event

New horizons: seven sporting event destinations to watch in the years to come

As hosts of major events carefully plan their post-Covid renaissance, new challenges and opportunities are emerging for emerging sports destinations around the world.

Right here, SportsPro features the event’s up-and-coming hosts making strategic adjustments to move to the next level of sports destinations.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest’s interest in hosting the Olympic Games has gone up and down for more than a century. After failing with five bids between 1916 and 1960, the city pulled out of the race to host the 2024 edition due to a lack of government and public support. The Hungarian Olympic Committee (HOC), however, remains hopeful of hosting future Games, if not in 2032 – when Brisbane looks increasingly likely to host – then possibly in 2036.

Despite its unsuccessful efforts so far, an Olympics seems like the end game for a historic city that is no stranger to hosting international sport. After replacing Los Angeles to host the first World City Games in 2019, the same year it served as the European capital of sport, Budapest has won four matches at Euro 2020 and the 2023 World Championships in Athletics. also stage the Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia last year before the pandemic put an end to those plans, while its current portfolio of events includes football’s 2022 Europa League final.

Alongside Glasgow and Copenhagen, Budapest is one of a host of cities that punch above its weight and push Europe’s major economic hubs for sporting supremacy. With top-notch facilities, including the recently opened Puskás Aréna, and a proven hosting pedigree, Hungary’s most populous city will be a strong contender for the best events on the planet for years to come.

Santiago, Chile

After a period of civil unrest that rocked a nation and grabbed headlines at the end of 2019, Santiago hopes to show a more united front when the Pan American Games arrive in the Chilean capital in 2023.

Despite the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Chilean Olympic Committee (COCH) President Miguel Ángel Mujica reiterated at La Tercera in October that hosting the continental multisport event in Santiago for the first time remains both “viable” and “necessary”. . The Games are expected to have an estimated total budget of $507 million, of which around $170 million will go towards building ten new venues and renovating six others, potentially creating the facilities that could be used to attract more events in the future. .

Armed with one of the most efficient metro systems in South America, a successful Pan American Games for Santiago could ultimately serve as a springboard for expanding a modest international sports calendar that will see next year host the race series again while Formula E electric cars. The city will no doubt also have a role to play in Chile’s four-man bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup alongside Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.


In 2026, four years later than planned due to the pandemic, Senegal will break new ground by becoming the first African country to host an Olympic event during the organization of the Youth Olympic Games in Dakar. Senegal’s bid beat competition from Botswana, Nigeria and Tunisia in 2018 to secure the hosting rights to the event, which is part of the country’s overall vision – known as the “Plan Sénégal Emergent”. ” – to use sport as a catalyst for economic and social development. inclusion until 2035.

As well as bolstering Senegal’s credentials as a host, Dakar 2026 will drive various infrastructure developments, including a new 50,000-seat national stadium in Diamniadio and a multipurpose “sports city” including football pitches, tennis courts, an athletics track and an Olympic swimming pool, among other amenities.

Senegal’s young and increasingly urban population – 60% of its inhabitants are under the age of 25 – is emblematic of the youthful dynamism that is rapidly becoming a hallmark of emerging economies across Africa. With the arrival of Extreme E and the upcoming Basketball Africa League (BAL) in the country, which also hosted the Women’s Afrobasket 2019 tournament, it is clear that the country’s government sees sport as an important driver of growth. in the years to come.

Senegalese youth enjoy a football match

Glasgow, Scotland

Much of Scotland’s hosting ambition lies with the city of Glasgow, which boosted its international profile with the successful hosting of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, a two-week sports festival held just six years ago. following the country’s launch of its national events strategy.

As well as boosting the national and local economy, Glasgow 2014 served as a springboard for securing more major sporting events in Scotland’s most populous city. The Games led to the construction of venues such as the Emirates Arena and the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, which later hosted international gatherings such as the Davis Cup tennis tournament, the European Indoor Athletics Championships and the UCI Track Cycling World Cup.

Most notably, in 2018 Glasgow also hosted the majority of the inaugural European Championships, a new multi-sport competition which brought its swimming, cycling and gymnastics events to the west of Scotland. Indeed, the city has shown itself to be more than ready to embrace new concepts and ideas. In 2023, set to become the European Capital of Sport, Glasgow will host the first UCI Cycling World Championships, taking place just over two years after Hampden Park staged matches for the European Cycling Championship. UEFA rescheduled this summer.


Indonesia was one of many destinations disappointed by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to name Brisbane as its preferred bidder for the 2032 Games, but that is unlikely to deter a country which in recent years , has begun to make clear its intention to host more international events.

These credentials were showcased in 2018 when Jakarta and Palembang hosted the 18th Asian Games, earning praise from the IOC by successfully hosting more than 11,000 athletes competing in some 58 sports. The cancellation of this year’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup has robbed Indonesia of another chance to make a name for itself, but another opportunity will soon arise when it hosts the FIFA World Cup. Fiba basketball 2023 alongside the Philippines and Japan.

Jakarta’s 80,000-seat Gelora Bung Karno Stadium (below) and Jakabaring Sport City in Palembang are at the heart of Indonesia’s ability to host major events. However, Reuters previously reported that the Southeast Asian country’s bid for the 2032 Olympics was to focus on its planned US$34 billion new “smart and green” capital on the forested island of Borneo, which will undoubtedly be the centerpiece of any long-term project. accommodation strategy is moving forward.

The Gelora Bung Karno Stadium is seen alongside the Jakarta skyline ahead of the opening of the 2018 Asian Games

Nashville, United States

Music City does whatever it takes to attract the sport. One of 17 U.S. cities vying to host matches at the 2026 FIFA World Cup, Nashville has made a concerted effort to add major sporting events to an annual schedule long built on thriving stages for music, arts and culture.

Home to four professional teams, including Nashville SC, which became the 24th Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise last year, and several top universities, Nashville has been named by the Sports Business Journal (SBJ) as the best America’s Sports City in 2019. This is perhaps unsurprising given the city’s mayor, John Cooper, and local councilors have been doing all they can to attract elite sport in recent years.

In March, before the Southeastern Conference (SEC) men’s basketball tournament in Nashville, Cooper said his city was preparing for “a moment of rebound” from the pandemic. Future events certainly testify to this. IndyCar’s inaugural Music City Grand Prix, for example, will bring America’s best open-wheel racing series to the streets of Nashville in August, while Nascar’s proposed return in 2022 would further imprint Tennessee’s capital on the american motorsport card.

If approved, this latest race will take place at the Nashville Fairgrounds, a 117-acre entertainment complex that is being renovated into a mixed-use development that includes a $275 million, 30,000-seat MLS stadium.

Saudi Arabia

No list of emerging sports destinations compiled in 2021 would be complete without the presence of Saudi Arabia. From Formula E races and pro golf tournaments to Italian soccer matches and world heavyweight boxing title fights, the oil-rich Gulf state has spent the past few years racking up an eclectic list of international events. as it seeks to project a vision of itself as a hub of elite sport.

Much of the international community’s attention has invariably focused on Saudi Arabia’s activities and investments elsewhere, but the country’s accommodation capacities are being built from scratch on home soil. . Sport is at the heart of economic policy and a concerted campaign of inward investment, not to mention government-backed megaprojects such as Neom, a sprawling US$500 billion high-tech development where notoriously repressive laws could be relaxed to meet more internationalized standards. on women’s rights, working conditions and alcohol consumption.

In 2034, the Asian Games, one of the biggest multi-sport events on the planet, will take place in the Saudi capital Riyadh, while a recent agreement to host Formula 1 races for the next decade on a newly built circuit in Qiddiyah speaks to the country. growing ambitions in motorsport, where the Arab racing calendar already includes the Dakar Rally and Extreme E.

Road cycling is just one of many sports on Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning calendar

This feature originally appeared in issue 113 of SportsPro magazine as part of the Destinations 2021 report. To read the other sections of the report, click here. You can also purchase the full issue from our online store or access a free digital version here.