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Portas Active Cities Index reveals relative performance of cities across policy and events

January 17, 2024

In this week’s View From Middle East piece Patrick Raupach, Partner and Head of Public Sector at Portas Consulting, explores the transformative endeavours within the Active Cities Index framework as cities strive to revolutionize their sports delivery landscape.

Stockholm leads the way in the Active Cities Index!

Globally, our great major cities are the beating heart of sporting life. Equally, whether it is hosting the Olympics or investing in community clubs, sport is a key ingredient to a vibrant and vital city and a crucial part of the future health of the global population. 

What is the Active Cities Index?

The inaugural Portas Active Cities Index reveals relative performance of cities across infrastructure, events and policy. This study provided an objective assessment of sports delivery in a landscape of sparse data. 

Th Active Cities Index aims to help cities harness the power of sport. Taking an innovative and holistic lens that looks beyond traditional event dollars, but considers policy, delivery and infrastructure; we go beyond quantity to assess quality and fit; and throughout, we have taken a data-driven approach to provide the cities with a baseline for action. 

Why do we need it?

In the dynamic urban landscape, a transformative trend has emerged – the “sportification of cities.” With the World Health Organisation underscoring the alarming prevalence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), cities are strategically embracing sports as a catalyst for change. This movement goes beyond flashy stadiums, integrating sports seamlessly into urban planning and fostering vibrant cultures. Recognizing the multifaceted benefits of sports – from economic growth to improved public health – cities prioritize sports infrastructure development to address NCD risk factors like physical inactivity.

Yet, as cities actively compete for residents, tourists, and investments, a critical challenge surfaces – the lack of robust data for evidence-based sports delivery decisions. This is where the Active Cities Index steps in as a groundbreaking solution. In a world where policy-makers often grapple with a dearth of comparable benchmarks, the index establishes a universal measurement framework, offering an objective ranking and creating a platform for sharing best practices. It is an empirical, data-driven tool empowering cities to gauge their sporting position globally, fostering a dynamic dialogue, and facilitating invaluable exchanges of insights. As cities vie for prominence in the sporting arena, the Active Cities Index emerges as a key differentiator, not only shaping their appeal but also contributing to a sense of identity, pride, and social cohesion. In essence, it becomes the guiding compass for cities aiming to optimize sports delivery and create inclusive, dynamic spaces for residents and visitors alike.

What were the scores?

The Active Cities Index employs a comprehensive Measurement Framework comprising three key components to assess the sporting landscape of 25 selected cities. The first component focuses on Infrastructure, evaluating sports facility provision to enhance access and encourage sports participation. The second component, Events, assesses a city’s capacity to host events, recognizing their pivotal role in driving mass participation, elite performance, and economic benefits. Lastly, the third component, Policy, delves into the lifecycle of sports strategy, emphasizing the significance of effective planning and implementation for successful sports delivery. The selection of these 25 cities was meticulous, considering factors such as size, a history of hosting major events, and geographical spread across the world, ensuring a diverse representation in the initial Active Cities Index. 


Stockholm earns the top spot in the inaugural Portas Active Cities Index, emerging as a notable outlier in infrastructure. 

Securing the second position is Paris, strategically prioritizing sports delivery, particularly as the city gears up for the 2024 Olympics.

Auckland closely follows in third place, emphasizing mass participation as a key focal point, showcasing a distinct commitment to diverse sporting outcomes.

What’s next?

Going forward, Portas consulting is uniquely placed to grow the index by continuing to expand the results to cover additional cities and additional components of sports delivery, such as participation rates. We look forward to working with all the cities to build out this index over the coming years. We hope the Portas Active Cities Index provides cities with a platform for learning, sharing, and friendly competition to make every city a great global sporting city. You can read the full report and methodology HERE


Portas is the leading global strategy consultancy dedicated to sport and physical activity. Our mission is to help our clients harness the power of sport and physical activity for the benefit of all. Find out more at

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