What are the Most Popular Olympic Sports?

What are the Most Popular Olympic Sports?

The Olympic Games are a time-honoured tradition that brings people together from all over the world to celebrate athleticism and international cooperation every four years. 

But what are the most popular Olympic sports? 

Get prepared to become the best armchair fan of Olympic sports and learn about some of the best Olympic sports and what makes them so captivating. 

What is the Most-Watched Olympic Sport?


Gymnastics has been an Olympic sport since the very first modern Olympic Games in 1896. It is one of the most popular disciplines in the Summer games, with fans worldwide tuning in to watch both the individual and team events. 

Gymnastics is a sport that requires incredible strength, flexibility, agility, coordination, and balance. The Olympic games have three gymnastics disciplines, rhythmic gymnastics, artistic gymnastics and trampolining.

Rhythmic gymnastics is performed only by women at the Olympic games, where they perform their leaps, dance and contortions to music.

However, artistic gymnastics and trampolining are for both genders, and if you want to compete in one of these solo sports, you will require more strength and technical knowledge. 


Swimming is also an Olympic sport since the first Olympic games back in 1896. But, unfortunately, swimming was only open to male contestants till 1912, when the first women swimmers took part in the Summer Olympic games in Stockholm.

It is also one of the most famous sports in the UK.

The Olympic games have 16 swimming events divided into four strokes with different distances. Both men and women compete in freestyle races, butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke races to take home Olympic medals. Depending on the type, the race distance can vary, starting from 50 metres and going up to 1 500 metres, including individual and team races.

Track and Field

Track and field sports or athletics are the most watched Olympic sports in the UK, with 45% of questioned Olympic fans in the country. There are 44 different track and field events to be enjoyed, including sprints, middle-distance races, long-distance races, decathlon, jumps, throws etc. 

The track and field events test athletes’ speed, strength, endurance and agility as they race or compete in jumping or throwing. The combination of individual and team competitions is an extra reason why athletics is a wildly popular sport at the Olympic games. Athletics can be part of both the Summer Games and Winter Games and some of the fastest athletes participate in this sport.

The UK is ranked as a third country in athletics at the Olympic games, with 55 gold medals won. 

Water Sports

Aside from swimming, several other water sports are considered the best Olympic sports to watch. 

Water sports have been gradually added to the Olympic games, starting with Water Polo added in 1900, the women-only synchronised swimming in 1984 and Diving which was part of the Olympic games for the first time in 1904. Other water Olympic sports are some of the best water extreme sports such as surfing, canoe sprinting, canoe slalom and rowing. 

Did you know that the UK is the leading country by the number of medals won in sailing?


Volleyball was demonstrated at the Olympic games at the Summer Olympics in 1924. Forty years later, volleyball was first played as an official Olympic sport at the 1964 games in Tokyo. Since then, it has become one of the most popular Olympic sports, with both men’s and women’s events attracting large audiences. 

The game is fast-paced and exciting to watch, and it requires a high level of skill and coordination from the players. However, with its combination of power and grace, volleyball is a sport that consistently delivers excellent moments at the Olympics.

You may also like: Famous Volleyball Players


Basketball is considered to be one of the most watched Olympic sports that is played by teams. The Berlin Games in 1936 welcomed Basketball as one of the Olympic sports. The first woman had the honours of playing basketball in the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976. 

Since then, the sport has gone on to become one of the most popular sports at the Olympics, with avid fans from all over the world. The United States holds the highest number of golden Olympic medals in basketball, with 25 for both men’s and woman competitor teams, which comes as no surprise knowing that some of the biggest NBA talents play are in the “Dream Team”.


Soccer is one of the most popular Olympic sports globally, with millions of people of all ages watching these football matches. However, while soccer has been a part of the Olympic Games since 1900, it was not until the 1996 Atlanta Olympics that women’s soccer was added as an official sport. 

The United Kingdom Olimpic national team has its shares of accomplishments in the Olympic soccer games. The UK is ranked in the third place in the world by medals won for football, with three gold Olympic medals.


Tennis has a long history with the Olympics, having been played in the Games since their inception in 1896. However, historically, this athletic event was only open to men till 1900, when women were included in the tennis Olympic games.

Although the tennis Olympic games it is not part of the ATP tour, still, some of the highest paying tennis players participate in it.

Later on, in 1924, tennis was removed from the Olympic games until the Games of the XXIV Olympiad in Seoul in 1988, when it was once again added to the programme. 

The UK is ranked second in the world for the accomplishments of the athletes in the Olympic games, with 17 gold medal winners, 14 silver and 12 bronze Olympic medals won. 

Also read: Best tennis players of all time


Weightlifting has been an Olympics sport since the first Olympic games. There were no weightlifting competitions in the 1900, 1908 and 1912 Olympic games. From 1920, competitors are divided into several weightlifting Olympic classes according to their weight. Women were first allowed to compete in 2000. The Olympics have combined competition of two types of lifts, the snatch and the clean and jerk. 

The UK competitor Launceston Eliot was the first person to win the gold medal in one hand lifting at the first Olympic Games in 1896. Since then, no other UK weightlifter has won an Olympic medal. 


One of the hardest sports in the world is also on the list of best Olympic Sports, even though rugby, with 15 players per team, has been part of the Olympic games only four times in 1900, 1908, 1920 and 1924.

Now the attention on the Olympic sports is on the Rugby 7s category, which made its debut in the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 for the first time, including men and women competitors.

Related: How much do rugby players make?


Every four years, we look forward to watching the most popular Olympic sports and cheering for our favourite individuals or teams.

These sports have generated the most buzz and excitement throughout the world for a good reason. 

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