Global data: Look at the most-followed Olympic sports

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
May 21, 2021, 9:28 PM GMT+0

As the postponed 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo draw closer, international data from YouGov shows just how popular each sport is around the world.

Among global consumers in the more than two dozen markets in which YouGov conducts research via the Global Fan Profiles tool, swimming is most followed by fans of the games.

Looking at four Olympic powerhouse nations, swimming is also among the top five sports in Germany (where 30% of fans follow the sport), the United Kingdom (32%), the United States (34%) and China (23%).

While the US is the country to have picked up the most swimming medals overall, artistic gymnastics is the most-followed sport among American fans (35%). About a quarter (28%) also follow rhythmic gymnastics. A string of podium finishes starting in 1992, including a gold in 2012 and 2016, has no doubt helped the sport’s following. A quarter of Americans follow diving (25%), and basketball rounds out the most-followed sports in the US, at 22%.

A similar collection of sports appears in the UK, although athletics is the most-followed sport by a wide margin (45%), ahead of swimming (32%), artistic gymnastics (27%), diving (24%) and rhythmic gymnastics (22%).

In Germany, athletics also reign supreme, with 45% of Olympic fans following the sport. Football/soccer (35%), swimming (30%), handball (21%) and diving (20%) also have healthy followings in the country.

In China, a nation which has amassed 546 Olympic medals in total, basketball is followed by a third of Olympics fans (30%), beating out table tennis (27%), badminton (27%), swimming (23%) and artistic swimming (21%).

Along gender lines, we see that male fans around the world are more likely than women to follow team sports, such as basketball and football/soccer, while women are more likely to follow gymnastics, both rhythmic and artistic, as well as diving.

Methodology: Interviews conducted between January 1 and March 31, 2021. Sample sizes were between 295 and 11,074. The Global Fan Profiles tool is available in the following markets: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UK, UAE, USA, and Vietnam. All data is nationally representative except for data from: Egypt, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and India, where data is representative of the urban populations.