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How is table tennis used to boost the development of Shanghai? Interviewing the executive director of Shanghai Table Tennis Association

Yi Zhang (Physical Education, Shanghai University, Shanghai, China)
Hao Dong Gu (SILC Business School, Shanghai University, Shanghai, China)

International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship

ISSN: 1464-6668

Article publication date: 16 February 2021

Issue publication date: 27 March 2021




Scholars have examined the relationship between sports and urban development and proposed to use sport programs and events as a catalyst to revitalize communities, upgrade urban infrastructure, promote city image, shift economic structure, nurture an active lifestyle, and enhance societal harmony and solidarity. Yet, previous studies were usually focused on mega sport events and were typically conceptual, theoretical and lack of practical applications. This study was designed to attain in-depth understanding on how a specific sport, table tennis, can be systematically organized and utilized to influence urban development through a qualitative research injury.


This investigation was carried by conducting in-depth interviews of the executive director of the Shanghai Table Tennis Association, on-site observations and comprehensive review of literature. Development of interview questions took into consideration the conceptual framework postulated by Preuss (2007) that contains six structures of urban development through sports. Triangulation analyses were conducted to cross validate the three information sources to generate themes and assertions.


While the identified practices were consistent with Preuss' (2007) framework, specific management activities earnestly practiced in Shanghai are centered on utilizing cultural and historical heritage, star power, branding strategies, staging tournaments, hallmark events, technical innovation and government relations to achieve the objectives of table tennis as a sport and the objectives of urban development through table tennis.


The findings of this study help fill the void that a theory usually cannot specify, namely, detailed, unambiguous practices. While table tennis may be a viewed as a small sport in many parts of the world, it has a strong, unprecedented historical heritage in Shanghai. This city has made a prudent choice and investment in this sport, which has proved to be effective. Other cities in the world should look into their own social, cultural and historical heritage and develop sport strategies, operations and programs accordingly.



Zhang, Y. and Gu, H.D. (2021), "How is table tennis used to boost the development of Shanghai? Interviewing the executive director of Shanghai Table Tennis Association", International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 179-195.



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