The Olympic Games is the most widely anticipated sporting event in the world. It includes a wide range of sports, but noticeably there are a couple of popular sports from around the world that do not participate at the Olympics, such as cricket and American football. There have been a few analyses of popularity of sports at this premier world sports event, using various measurement methods.
The most popular world sport as measured by other methods is soccer, which is also very popular at the Summer Olympics, though swimming and athletics reach their peak in popularity during the Olympics and give soccer some competition.
Here are the results of several studies:
Twitter Mentions (2012) – Based on Tweets during the 2012 Olympics, soccer was the most popular: football / fútbol / soccer had over 5 million Tweets. The most discussed athlete of the Games was not surprisingly sprinter Usain Bolt, with nine other Olympians gathering more than 1 million Tweets each. The biggest moments of competition, as measured by Tweets per minute, was Usain Bolt winning gold in the 200m sprint. See more.
Most Widely Played Olympic Sport (2005) – based on the number of National Federations was found to be volleyball. See more.
IOC Website Traffic (2004) – analysis of internet traffic to each sport section of the IOC website in 2004 found aquatics (swimming etc.) the most visited. See more.
Published Articles (2004) – using data from the Olympic Program Commission about the 2004 Olympic Games, based on newspaper articles. The sport with the most articles published is by a long way Athletics (Track and Field), with swimming second and soccer third. See more.
Topend Sports Poll: the leading sports voted as the favorite Summer Olympics sport are gymnastics, track & field and swimming. The least favorite Olympic sport is equestrian, though when listed separately, race walking is least favorite.