Barring another postponement, Friday’s opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics will see the launch of competitions overshadowed by a pandemic that has already forced a major delay, interfered with the spectacle before the Games, and allowed spectators to stand in the stands. and prevent some athletes from competing. All.
For casual observers in the United States, the excitement and anticipation are hard to find as the Olympic Games draw attention to serious domestic and international headlines.
“We hardly heard much about it,” Kevin Watson of Alexandria, Virginia, told VOA. “It’s already been a letdown, with few interviews with athletes or TV commercials to promote the sport.”
Even before the pandemic, primetime ratings for the Summer Olympics were declining.
Data compiled by Zeta Global in New York indicated that 60% of Americans were not interested or excited about the Tokyo Games. And at least 45% were not even waiting for them.
According to the Zeta Global website, the reasons include the postponement of the Games last year, reduced desire to sit in front of the TV after a year-long lockdown and restricted audiences at events.
“Since there won’t be spectators to watch, cheer, laugh and shout in the stands behind the contestants, that makes coverage boring,” Alex Willman in Carlsbad, Calif., said in a VOA interview. “The best part of any sporting event with a large audience is watching their reaction to the score.”
Eliot Greenwald said he didn’t pay much attention to the run-up to the Olympics. The avid sailor from Bethesda, Maryland, said he would probably be more interested in events once he started, especially watersports like sailing and diving.
With some athletes testing positive for the coronavirus in Tokyo, some feel the Games should be postponed again.
“I love the Olympic Games, but I don’t think they should be right now,” Barry Hunter, a boxing trainer at Headbangers Gym in Washington, told VOA over the phone. He said that because of the pandemic, “the average person in America is not as excited about them as they normally are.”
“When a pandemic is going on around the world, they seem less important,” said Lewis Korver, who lives in Huntersville, North Carolina.
However, Jeff Shell, chief executive of NBCUniversal, the major US television network that broadcasts most of the Olympics, thinks the timing is right.
NBC is broadcasting over 7,000 hours of coverage on several of its television networks. Shell said in a virtual conference call this week that the Tokyo Games could be the most profitable Olympics in NBC’s history.
some fans are curious
The lack of enthusiasm is far from universal. Some Americans can’t wait to watch their favorite sports.
Louisa Handem Piet in Londonderry, New Hampshire, said she would be glued to the TV among those watching the Olympics. “The American audience will be much larger than anticipated,” she said in a phone interview with VOA.
Bob Mandau in Chesterland, Ohio, said he welcomes the Olympics “as a much-needed break from negative politics on TV.”
Meanwhile, Rick Kinney of Wellesley, Massachusetts, said Americans like him would watch the Olympics because “people love a good story about how hard athletes worked to get to the Games.”
Sam Doring is on the swim team at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. She will follow American Katie Ledecky, one of the world’s top swimmers and a favorite for the top medal at the Games.
“I think it will be great to see Ledecky, and hopefully other American swimmers, do well in swimming competitions,” she said. “And it’s really nice to hear the national anthem play after winning a medal.”
Of all the events, women’s gymnastics is estimated to be the most popular among American audiences. Zeta Global predicted that 33% of those interested in the Olympics would focus on that competition.
Ashley Amberger, owner and head coach of the North Stars Gymnastics Academy in Booneton, New Jersey, said she thought the U.S. women’s team was “one to watch” as American top-ranked female gymnast Simone Biles tunes in to watch. , “which is really breaking down barriers.”