Most Popular Olympic Sports (2004)

Here is another good measure of the popularity of sports using internet traffic, though it only includes sports that are part of the Summer Olympics. The analysis is of internet traffic to each sport section of the IOC website during 2004, which included the period of the Athens Olympic Games.

Since this analysis was made, the sports of baseball and softball were dropped from the program in 2008 (and since came back again!), in 2016 golf and rugby were added, and other five sports added in 2020. Also, the popularity of sports around the world may have changed since the time this data was first collected.

There are a few other lists of the world's popular sports using internet traffic statistics - based on Wikipedia sport pages and Google search terms. There are also more rankings of popular Olympic Sports, the ranking of most widely played Olympic Sport based on the number of National Federations and the most popular Olympic Sport based on the number of articles published.

Total Page Views to the IOC Website Sections

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 number of visits to the sport's pages of the IOC website from January 2004 to 11 February 2005. The sport with the most visited page is aquatics, which includes swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming.

The top four sports on the list are the same as the analysis of articles published, though in a different order. This ranking is different from the popularity of Wikipedia sport pages over a longer period, reflecting the apparent temporary popularity of sports such as swimming, athletics and gymnastics at the time of the Olympic Games.

Rank Sport Page Views %
1 Aquatics 431378 10.1
2 Gymnastics 323581 7.6
3 Athletics 308596 7.2
4 Football (Soccer) 178418 4.2
5 Volleyball 176042 4.1
6 Equestrian 171517 4.0
7 Basketball 163954 3.8
8 Cycling 143388 3.4
9 Shooting 134099 3.1
10 Wrestling 128027 3.0
11 Archery 127830 3.0
12 Taekwondo 119570 2.8
13 Modern Pentathlon 106858 2.5
14 Tennis 106297 2.5
15 Fencing 105659 2.5
16 Judo 103671 2.4
17 Weightlifting 101285 2.4
18 Canoe-kayak 95637 2.2
19 Badminton 92591 2.2
20 Handball 91071 2.1
21 Baseball 90840 2.1
22 Field Hockey 87395 2.1
23 Rowing 82834 1.9
24 Sailing 79716 1.9
25 Triathlon 68937 1.9
26 Table Tennis 65159 1.8
27 Softball 59570 1.6
28 Boxing 13920 1.0

Table data source: IOC - Olympic Program Commission, Report to the 117th IOC Session, 24 May 2005.


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Lists Extra

Football/Soccer is clearly the world's most popular sport, and has the most popular athletes, but which sport has the fittest players (but not necessarily the greatest athlete). These players do not always earn the most. The best of the best have made it to our 7 Sporting Wonders Lists.

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