HONG KONG, July 14 (Reuters) – Interest in the Olympic Games among women is rising, with nearly as many women as men now keen on the sports extravaganza due to begin in the Japanese capital at the end of next week, according to research released on Wednesday.
Data analytics company Nielsen Sports said 45% of women in the world’s largest economies have shown interest in the Games, which this year run from July 23 to Aug. 8, though with no spectators in venues due to coronavirus restrictions.
That figure is just three percentage points lower than the number of men who were interested in the event, which was postponed for a year due to the pandemic, when the survey was conducted in May.
“The Olympics provide a unifying moment with countries and athletes coming together to compete in what is the world’s largest sporting event,” said Lynsey Douglas, who is head of brands at Nielsen Sports.
“Although this year’s Olympics in Tokyo will be different from previous Games in many ways, the potential they bring to elevate gender equality in sport remains critical.
“With nearly equal medal opportunities for men and women, the Olympics provides the most gender balanced fan base among major events.”
According to Nielsen’s research, the Olympic Games is the world’s most popular sporting event, with 47% of respondents in 13 of the 15 wealthiest nations interested or very interested in the Summer Games.
That figure far surpasses the next most-popular non-Olympic event, the NBA, which sees 33% of people expressing an interest. But only 17% of women are interested in the U.S. basketball league.
The Tokyo Olympics will see an increase in medals awarded to women as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) edges closer to gender parity.
Women’s events will account for 156 gold medals and 494 of the medals available in Tokyo while men’s events will account for 165 gold out of a total of 530.
The IOC has also introduced additional mixed events in which more women could win medals.
Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Robert Birsel
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