Data Reveals the Most Popular Sport of Tokyo Olympics 2020- and it’s NOT Gymnastics

Published 12/20/2021, 2:15 PM EST
TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 03: Noah Lyles of Team United States competes in round one of the Men’s 200m heats on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)


The Summer Olympic Games attract millions of viewers from around the globe. Notably, in terms of viewership, the Olympics is divided into a few categories like television viewers, public surveys, tickets booked, internet fame, press coverage, and national federations.

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These categories help analyze the share of Olympic revenue the Sport’s International Federation receives. According to the data, in 2013, the top-earning category A comprised gymnastics and aquatics along with athletics.

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However, recently, the president of World Athletics announced the rise of Athletics as the number one Olympic sport watched at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Athletics emerges as the No. 1 sport in Olympics 

Gymnastics, aquatics, and athletics were all in the same category previously and had almost the same popularity as well. But recently, the data released by the International Olympic Committee reveals something different. Athletics has emerged as the most popular sport.

“We came out of the Olympic Games as the number one Olympic sport, said World Athletics president, Sebastian Coe.

TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 03: Erriyon Knighton of Team United States competes in round one of the Men’s 200m heats on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

He announced this not just anecdotally, but with supportive data. Coe shared three stats to prove his statement over a virtual call.

We had the highest number of broadcast viewing hours in Tokyo – by some distance – of any Olympic sport, some 2.2 million hours, we had the largest number of media articles written – some 10,000,” he added.

Importance of television marked by Coe

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Further in the call, president Sebastian Coe stated the importance of television in the rising popularity of athletics.

We must never underestimate the value of television. Television is a really important vehicle for us,” said Sebastian.

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 31: Yohan Blake of Jamaica in the heats of the mens 100m during the Athletics event on Day 8 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 31, 2021 Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

“For those watching athletics, they will consume it in a large part on television,” he added.

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Notably, the 100m race is one of the most-watched events during the Olympics. With the Paris Olympics coming up in 2024, it will be interesting to see if athletics can maintain its level of popularity.

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Richa Goswami

284 articles

Richa Goswami is a US Sports writer at EssentiallySports. As an adherent learner, she uses her journalistic persona to navigate through new skills. Richa has completed her schooling at Don Bosco.

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