What Are The Most Popular Olympic Sports People Tune Into?

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan is only a few months away. With the huge event slated to bring excitement and a spirit of competitiveness not just among athletes but also fans themselves, it’s safe to say that these games are watched by people all over the world. But do you know which sports garner the most attention?

With approximately 3.6 billion viewers tuning in for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics alone, there’s no denying that people love sports. The Tokyo 2020 event is not only expected to draw in even bigger viewership numbers but, it is also expected to ignite a spike in network ratings for shows that cover the events. After all, no one can replace the thrill and anticipation of watching a sports broadcast live.


Despite numerous arenas and events participating in the upcoming Olympics, there are only a few sporting events that draw massive viewership. Want to know what these events are? Check out the most viewed events below.

Most Popular Olympic Sports


One of the highly anticipated sports at the Olympics is swimming. After all, aquatic sports have birthed some of the biggest names in the industry – including Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps, and even Katie Ledecky. Part of its popularity is owed to the inherent human quality that makes it attainable for viewers watching on the sidelines.


Not to mention, there are subtle feuds and mind games being played in the pool. Who could forget Phelps’ angry-faced situation or Lilly King’s finger wag to Yulia Efimova of Russia, right? With these events, viewers can expect prime time live coverage as well as nighttime streaming of competitions in the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics.


In the past several years, more individuals worldwide have tuned in for gymnastics events. It’s likely to remain a top sport this year as well and it’s not just because gymnasts fly through the air and balance themselves on beams. Perhaps part of the appeal lies in the heart-stopping and jaw-breaking finishes and impeccable floor routines that are polished down to a tee.

The trials alone are anxiously awaited by numerous people time and time again, especially with names such as Simon Biles expected to represent the United States. As a four-time Olympic champion, Biles’ reach alone is enough to keep the world tuned for what’s next. The trials in June will determine who’s going to join Biles, so make sure not to miss this either.


Track And Field

Track and field events are among the most-watched sporting events primarily because they’re straightforward. Even the audience sees the man or woman running faster than the rest of the other participants. Because of the no-nonsense approach of the sport itself, viewers can easily gauge who won – even without knowing who the participants are and their respective names.

Since track events are not confusing to watch, the sport itself draws a ton of viewers from both casual and avid fans alike. Among the most anticipated track events is the men’s 100-meter final, with Usain Bolt being recognized for this particular race.


Basketball is a classic Olympic sport, especially with both men’s and women’s team representing their respective home countries. While the United States has almost consistently bagged the top prizes, people can’t help but watch the games and root for the underdogs.

More than the underdog story, one of the more compelling reasons why this sport is popular in the Olympics is that it features the country’s best stars – with some taking time off the National Basketball Association to compete for their home country. Some of the countries that may have NBA stars on the roster for the 2020 Olympics are Australia, Brazil, Croatia, Spain – with the United States boasting the most NBA talent.


The Bottom Line

With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics coming closer, there’s only one thing we know for sure – and that’s record-breaking viewerships and ratings around the globe. Watch as these sports take center stage and get the attention they rightly deserve – all from the comforts of your own home.

Which of these Olympic sports are you planning to keep your eye on?