Most Watched Summer Olympic Sports

Gymnastics is one of the most watched Summer Olympic sports. Editorial credit: Leonard Zhukovsky /
Gymnastics is one of the most watched Summer Olympic sports. Editorial credit: Leonard Zhukovsky /

The Summer Olympic Games is one of the world’s most highly anticipated sporting tournaments that is held once every 4 years. The modern Summer Olympic Games event was established in 1896, and since then, these events have been hosted in five continents by 19 countries. The Summer Olympics includes a wide range of sporting events and has expanded its scope from 42 events (1896) to 306 events (2016). Some of the most-watched sports in the Summer Olympic Games include:


Gymnastics is a unique sport involving several exercises that require endurance, coordination, agility, balance, flexibility, and strength. The movements involved in this sport contribute to the development of abdominal, chest, arms, shoulders, legs, and back muscle groups. Gymnastics has been part of this sporting event since the first modern Summer Olympic Games of 1896 that were held in Athens, which only featured male gymnastic events.

Women’s gymnastics competitions were introduced in 1928. The gymnastic Olympic Games have been the most-watched Olympic sport since 1996 when it garnered the highest number of viewers on the planet, especially with the Magnificent Seven women's gymnatsics team winning their first-ever gold for the United States. According to NBC, the women’s gymnastics competition (when the US won a gold medal) was watched by over 38.7 million viewers.


Swimming is a very popular event at the Olympic Games, and it has the second-highest number of events after Athletics. Swimming has been featured in all the modern Summer Olympics, but was only open to female swimmers as of the fifth Summer Olympics Games. The Americans have dominated swimming for more than two decades, with some of the most decorated American swimmers like Michael Phelps winning 23 gold medals. Michael holds the record for most Olympic gold medals won by a single athlete. The US has won the most medals in the swimming competitions since 1896, followed by Australia (188 medals).


Track-and-field is a unique sport that encompassing several events based on running, throwing, and jumping. The name "track-and-field" is derived from the location of these events (a field for jumping and throwing events and a running track). The foot racing events are won by the individuals who finish in the shortest time possible while the throwing and jumping sports are won by individuals who can achieve the greatest heights or distances. Some of the regular throwing events include the hammer, discus, javelin, and shot put while the common jumping events are triple-jumps, pole vaults, long-jumps, and high-jumps. Most athletics events are individual games with only one winner. One of the highlights at the Olympics is the 100 m men’s competition, which awards the record holder the recognition of being the fastest man on Earth.


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