The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are right around the corner, although a year delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and offer a great opportunity to cheer on your country’s elite athletes in some sports you may not typically pay that much attention to.
With competition beginning on July 23, which sport has the most intrigue and interest for the Summer Olympic Games, and which is bringing up the rear? Below is a list of all of the 2020 Olympic Games sports in order of interest as of March 2021 based on an American study.
Gymnastics Will Stop You from Flipping the Channel
There is something about men’s and women’s gymnastics that catches the eye of many viewers. Whether it’s the uneven bars, vault, balance beam or the floor routine, each amazes people with incredible body control, strength and precision. While some say “Hey, I could do that,” the more realistic people understand that they are seeing remarkable talent.
As you can see in the image above from Statista, as of March, gymnastics had the highest percentage of very interested people in the United States and the second-highest percentage of somewhat interested people. Swimming was a close second, which makes sense with the recent success of America at the Olympic Games with swimmers such as Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.
For those closest to the sport or with a good memory, you may recall Simone Biles’ tremendous performances at the 2016 Rio Games in which the gymnast racked up five medals, four of which were gold. Biles scored the best all-around score in the Olympic trials for the Tokyo Games and is much-watch TV when she is competing.
No Love for Rugby Sevens
While this pains me to write as a rugger, rugby sevens is firmly in the basement in the level of interest among the summer Olympic sports, garnering only seven percent of very interested and 13 percent of somewhat interested. The U.S. men’s team failed to make the quarters in 2016, while the women’s side ran into silver medallist New Zealand in its quarterfinal appearance.
It’s a little surprising to see rugby sevens at the bottom as it is a fast-paced wide-open game with only seven players per side in a rapid 14-minute match. Additionally, newer games such as surfing, skateboarding and karate have much more intrigue, with surfing actually edging soccer, sitting ninth on the list.
The USA men’s side had a good run in the Olympic qualifying in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in 2019, with the Eagles medaling in seven of the 10 events and finishing second in the overall standings. Perhaps a strong performance in Tokyo could gain some traction and move rugby sevens up in the list for the 2024 Games.