Shanghai aspires to the same sporting status as Olympics hosts Tokyo and Paris, and staging the Summer Games would be “the highest ideal,” a top cadre in the city said on Wednesday.

Shanghai’s deputy director general of sports told reporters in a media briefing that officials in the city would be taking a keen interest in how Tokyo and Paris fare with the Summer Games in 2020 and 2024.

“It’s not the first time these cities have held the Olympic Games. They have a lot of experience” in hosting the mega event, said Luo Wenhua of the Shanghai sports administration, noting that his city would have a lot to learn from Tokyo and Paris. However, he stopped short of committing to an Olympics bid.

“I think the next step should be to strengthen communication and let us learn from them,” he told Agence France-Presse and reporters from other international media outlets.

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Shanghai’s Bund area and Lujiazui central business district at night. Photo: iStock
A couple posing for wedding photos at the Bund in Shanghai with the Pudong skyline in the background. Photo: iStock
A couple pose for wedding photos at the Bund in Shanghai with the Pudong skyline in the background. Photo: iStock

Shanghai already hosts several major annual sporting events including a Formula One race, men’s and women’s golf, Diamond League athletics and the Shanghai Masters tennis, which is only one rung below grand slams and the ATP Finals.

The city has unveiled an aggressive blueprint to be a globally renowned destination for mega events and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) tourism by 2025.

Luo named Tokyo, Paris, Los Angeles, London and New York as cities he would like Shanghai to emulate. Only New York has never hosted an Olympics and, after 2008, Beijing was on track to become the only city on the planet to host both Summer and Winter Olympics.

It seems almost inevitable that Shanghai will one day make its bid, given the well-known penchant of Chinese cadres for sports extravaganza and fanfare events to elevate the international stature of their cities. The next available Summer Games slot is 2032.

However, the Shanghai official stressed that any decision to make such a bid would down to China’s central government.

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An image from Expo 2010 in Shanghai. Photo: Xinhua
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An aerial view of the Shanghai Expo park. Photo: WeChat

Being the largest city in China as measured by population, built-up area and economic output, today’s Shanghai possesses all the makings of an Olympic host city.

A metropolis of 25 million residents, Shanghai’s gross domestic product has expanded by 6.9% to break the 3 trillion yuan (US$440 billion) mark. That figure puts Shanghai among the world’s top 10 cities with the largest GDP, according a report by Oxford Economics.

The city also boasts an extensive metro network of 644 kilometers, second to none worldwide, and its two airports handled a combined passenger throughput of 112 million in 2017. Excluding fiscal income handed over to the central government, the Shanghai government recorded a total income of 664 billion yuan last year.

Shanghai shelled out some $45 billion on Expo 2010 – a six-month-long bash attended by more than 200 countries and regions – outspending the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games by at least $5 billion.