Is Athletics the Most Popular Olympic Sport?
It is very difficult to determine what are the world's most popular sports, due to the lack of suitable and reliable statistics. Here a good measure of popularity has been found, but it only includes Summer Olympic Sports. There are a couple of popular sports from around the world that do not participate at the Olympics, such as Cricket and American Football. This data is from the 2004 games. Since then, after the 2008 Olympics the sports of Baseball and Softball were dropped from the program and in 2016 golf and rugby are set to return. See also the analysis of traffic to the IOC website and the ranking of most widely played Olympic Sport based on the number of National Federations.
The table below uses data from the Olympic Program Commission, Report to the 117th IOC Session from 24 May 2005. The data presented is the average number of articles per publication for a period of two weeks before the Games, during the Games and a further two weeks after the Athens 2004 Olympic Games (from 30 July to 12 September 2004 inclusive). The sample was 67 publications from 25 countries that were selected to be representative of the global coverage.
The sport with the most articles published, and therefore the most popular Olympic Sport by this measure, is by a long way Athletics (Track and Field), and this does not include articles related to race walking and the marathon. Swimming is second with Soccer third. Artistic gymnastics was fourth on the list, though the other gymnastics disciplines of Rhythmic and Trampoline were at the bottom of the list. If all of these were included as one figure for gymnastics, it would have moved up to third position.
Number of articles published during the 2004 Olympics
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- IOC - Olympic Program Commission, Report to the 117th IOC Session, 24 May 2005.
- the most popular sports pages on Topend Sports
- other top 10 lists of the world's most popular sports
- other world sport lists