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 are a couple of interesting measures of popularity using media mentions, though they only include Summer Olympic Sports. The most popular world sport by other methods, soccer, is also very popular at the Olympics, but swimming and athletics reach their peak in popularity at the Olympics and give soccer some competition. Based on Tweets in 2012, soccer was the most popular. In 2004, based on newspaper articles, athletics was clearly the most popular. These do not necessarily represent the world's most popular sports, as there are a couple of popular sports from around the world that do not participate at the Olympics, such as Cricket and American Football, and the wide range of winter sports are also not included.
Based on Twitter Mentions (2012)
After the 2012 Olympic Games in London, there was an analysis of the sports and athlete mentions on Twitter. There was a lot of data - twitter users sent more than 150 million Summer Games tweets. According to Twitter, the sport which saw the most Twitter conversation was football / fútbol / soccer with well over 5 million Tweets.
|1||football / fútbol / soccer|
|3||track & field (athletics)|
The most discussed athlete of the Games was not surprisingly sprinter Usain Bolt, with nine other Olympians gathering more than 1 million Tweets each.
|1||Usain Bolt (@UsainBolt)||athletics (sprinting)|
|2||Michael Phelps (@MichaelPhelps)||swimming|
|3||Tom Daley (@TomDaley1994)||diving|
|4||Ryan Lochte (@ryanlochte)||swimming|
|5||Gabby Douglas (@gabrielledoug)||gymnastics|
|6||Andy Murray (@andy_murray)||tennis|
|7||Kobe Bryant (#GetKobeOnTwitter)||basketball|
|8||Yohan Blake (@YohanBlake)||athletics (sprinting)|
|9||Lee Chong Wei (@Lee_C_Wei)||badminton|
|10||LeBron James (@KingJames)||basketball|
The biggest moments of competition, as measured by Tweets per minute.
|rank||athlete / team||notes||tweets / minute|
|1||Usain Bolt (@UsainBolt)||the Jamaican wins gold in the 200m sprint||80,000+|
|2||Usain Bolt (@UsainBolt)||wins gold in the 100m||74,000+|
|3||Andy Murray (@andy_murray)||the Great Britain athelete wins gold in the men's tennis singles||57,000+|
|4||Jamaica||wins gold and sets the world record in the men's 4x100 relay||52,000+|
|5||Team USA||beats Spain to win gold in men's basketball||41,000+|
Based on Articles Published (2004)
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
|1||IAAF||Athletics||Track and field||1987|
Reference: 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