Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2021, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (12): 1791-1815.doi: 10.1007/s11442-021-1923-z

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Intercity connections and a world city network based on international sport events: Empirical studies on the Beijing, London, and Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games

XUE Desheng(), OU Yubin   

  1. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2021-03-25 Accepted:2021-08-14 Online:2021-12-25 Published:2022-02-25
  • About author:Xue Desheng (1969-), PhD and Professor, E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41930646)


With so many sports becoming increasingly popular, sports have come to play an important role in promoting the process of globalization and formatting the world city network (WCN). Previous studies have constructed the WCN based on the distribution of international sport federations (ISFs) and the sites of international sport events (ISEs), but there is still a lack of systematic research on the intercity connections caused by ISEs. Taking three most recent Olympic Games as cases, this paper explores intercity connections and WCN based on ISEs. The results show that (1) the Olympic WCN has city nodes around the world except in Antarctica, and the number and activity values of the cities in host countries may increase intensively during the Olympic Games. (2) A hierarchical city system with four tiers (global central cities, specialized central cities, national central cities and specialized cities) is formed by the intercity connections caused by the Olympic Games. (3) The WCN based on the Olympic Games, is made up of many subnetworks, while many differences occur due to the diverse decisions made by the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (OCOG), host cities or even host countries in the events associated with sponsorship activity and publicity activity. This study not only broadens the relevant fields of sports culture-oriented WCN research but also explores the instability of the WCN, which makes it an effective reference for WCN research based on ISEs.

Key words: globalization, world city network, Olympic Games, hierarchy