For Pete's Sake

Ahead of Games in Rio, there is a sharp decline in interest in Olympics

A ball soared past the Olympic rings placed at the Copacabana beach volleyball arena prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday.
A ball soared past the Olympic rings placed at the Copacabana beach volleyball arena prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday. The Associated Press

The Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro officially start Friday with the Opening Ceremonies.

The Games finally arrive after weeks of bad publicity: police troubles, polluted waters, political upheaval, fears of the Zika virus and doping allegations against Russian athletes. Perhaps that’s the reason why most U.S. viewers plan to skip watching the Olympics.

That’s the findings of a Gallup poll conducted last month. Respondents were asked: “How much of the Olympics do you intend to watch — a great deal, a fair amount, not much or none at all?”

This is the result: 51 percent said “not much” or “none at all.”

That may not seem like a big deal, but the findings represent a 10 percent jump among people who say they plan to skip the Olympics from the 2012 Games in London.

 

Interest leading up to the Olympic Games

YearGreat Deal/Fair amountNot much/None at all
201648 percent51 percent
201259 percent41 percent
200856 percent43 percent
200459 percent41 percent
200059 percent40 percent

One key to the declining interest, Gallup found, is among women viewers: Ahead of the the 2012 Games in London, 63 percent of women said they planned to watch the Olympics a great deal or fair amount. That number is 47 percent ahead of the Games in Rio.

Those numbers are not as dramatic as this unofficial poll from ESPN’s Darren Rovell, which showed a steep decline in interest (although 10 years is an odd number to use):

And, apparently, the decline in interest is not limited to the United States. The BBC also surveyed 19,000 people in 19 countries and 57 percent said “doping has had ‘a lot’ or ‘some’ negative effect on the level of attention they will pay the Games.”

What are your thoughts? Vote in our poll and/or leave your comments below:

 

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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