Let the games begin! The 2016 Summer Olympics have already been making news ahead of the torch’s arrival at Barra Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As the world’s best athletes prepare for competition, news around the games have been riddled with controversies and concerns. We dug into Quantcast’s first-party data to see who is searching for the Olympics in the U.S., Great Britain, Canada and Australia.
Searches for general Olympic topics dominated interest around the games. The abundance of controversies surrounding the games garnered more interest than both the sporting events and competing teams/athletes across all of the countries we looked at.
Within controversies, the Russian doping scandal grabbed the most attention in the U.S. and Great Britain. Canada showed the greatest concern for the super bacteria found in Rio’s water where the rowing and canoeing teams will compete. This is of particular interest to Canada as 28 percent of its medals won in the 2012 Summer Olympics were in rowing and canoeing. Australians are most worried about Brazil’s readiness as the Australian team has experienced difficulties with the living quarters.
Using search as an indicator of popularity, we ranked the most anticipated Olympic sports by country.
- In the U.S., gymnastics topped the list as Team USA is heavily favored for gold, and competition is fierce within Team USA itself. Swimming took second place as Michael Phelps makes his fifth Olympic appearance in pursuit of his 23rd Olympic medal and faces a more competitive landscape. Track and field was third as the world’s fastest man – Usain Bolt – takes his final Olympic laps before retirement.
- Great Britain ranked the highest with football (soccer) – a chance to redeem itself after a disappointing performance at Euro 2016. Swimming came in second, GB won three medals in 2012 and is placing hopes on Adam Peaty and James Guy to bring home the gold. Gymnastics came in third as the Downie sisters head the best GB Olympic gymnastics team. Tennis also ranked higher than other countries as Great Britain is fresh from hosting Wimbledon in July.
- Canada’s most anticipated sport was golf – the sport’s first Olympic appearance since 1904. As the men’s Canadian basketball team fell short of qualifying in the Olympics, all eyes will be on the women’s team, who is currently ranked #9 in the world. Field hockey ranked considerably higher for Canada than other teams as 14 of its 16 team members will be making their first Olympic appearance.
- Australia’s top searched sports included gymnastics, basketball and swimming. Searchers showed more interest in diving and rowing as the Australians took home one medal in diving and five in rowing in the 2012 Olympics.
As the Olympic sporting events kick off, attention will shift from pregame jitters to admiration for the athleticism on display. Check back here as we track how the Olympic journey unfolds and we find out who will be this year’s breakout Olympian.
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