Regional Lists of Most-Widely Played Sports

There are regional differences in the popularity of sports. Here are the top 10 sports based on the number of National Federations for that sport in each of the world's major regions: Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. These lists give an indication of how widely each of the sports are played within the region. See also lists of top sports by country.

The tables below uses data from the Olympic Program Commission, Report to the 117th IOC Session from 24 May 2005, showing the number of National Federations for each Olympic sport for the year 2005. This list does not include all of the National Federations (unlike this list), only those that are associated with a National Olympic Committee (NOC). In addition to the current sports at the time (Baseball and Softball has since been dropped), the paper included the number of national federations for sports looking at being included in the Olympic program: Roller Sports, Golf, Rugby, Karate and Squash. See also a ranking of sports based on the total number of National Federations for each sport.

Looking closely at these lists you can see examples of sports are more popular in certain regions. For example, it is not surprising that table tennis (ping pong) is ranked equal third in Asia and only 12th in America. Another example is archery, which is in the top list in Oceana but is on no other top 10. Some regions have more National Olympic Committees (NOCs) (more countries too), which can also bias worldwide popularity lists. The region with the most NOCs is Africa (53) and the least in Oceania (15). In all regions, there are at least a couple of sports which have a National Sporting Federation associated with each of the NOCs in that region. In actual fact, every NOC has a Track and Field national federation associated with it. No other sport does.

Number of National Sporting Federations in Africa (max. 53)

rank Sport No. National Federations
=1 Track and Field 53
=1 Basketball 53
=1 Volleyball 53
4 Football (Soccer) 52
5 Tennis 51
6 Swimming 50
=7 Boxing 47
=7 Table Tennis 47
=7 Handball 47
10 Judo 45

Number of National Sporting Federations in America (max. 42)

rank Sport No. National Federations
=1 Track and Field 42
=1 Basketball 42
=1 Volleyball 42
=1 Football (Soccer) 42
=1 Tennis 42
=1 Boxing 42
=1 Judo 42
=1 Taekwondo 42
9 Swimming 40
=10 Karate 37
=10 Cycling 37

Number of National Sporting Federations in Asia (max. 44)

rank Sport No. National Federations
=1 Track and Field 44
=1 Volleyball 44
=3 Basketball 43
=3 Football (Soccer) 43
=3 Table Tennis 43
=3 Tennis 43
=3 Boxing 43
8 Swimming 42
9 Badminton 41
=10 Taekwondo 40
=10 Weightlifting 40

Number of National Sporting Federations in Europe (max. 48)

rank Sport No. National Federations
=1 Track and Field 48
=1 Basketball 48
=1 Football (Soccer) 48
=1 Tennis 48
=1 Shooting 48
=6 Volleyball 47
=6 Table Tennis 47
=6 Swimming 47
=6 Taekwondo 47
=6 Cycling 47
=6 Gymnastics 47

Number of National Sporting Federations in Oceania (max. 15)

rank Sport No. National Federations
=1 Track and Field 15
=1 Basketball 15
=1 Tennis 15
=1 Volleyball 15
=1 Weightlifting 15
=6 Table Tennis 13
=6 Archery 13
=8 Boxing 12
=8 Judo 12
=8 Softball 12

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