Tokyo Olympics End With Closing Ceremony, as US TV Ratings See Decline
The International Olympic Committee declared the Tokyo Olympics officially closed, with officials claiming the Games were a success, despite the pandemic.
The Olympics and its closing ceremony, with the theme “Worlds We Share,” were held in the middle of a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic and have been rejected by many Japanese citizens.
At the Games, spectators were kept at bay. A patchwork of rules kept athletes masked and apart for many of the medal ceremonies, yet saw them compete closely enough that they would be swapping bodily fluids in some venues. Risks were mitigated when possible, but at the same time, events had to go on.
U.S. television ratings for the Games saw a considerable decline compared to the 2016 Olympics.
NBC’s primetime coverage on July 26 averaged 14.7 million viewers, which is a nearly 50 percent drop compared to the same night during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics—and it’s 53 percent less than the 2012 Olympics in London. The overall television audience for the Tokyo Games, according to Nielsen ratings, was down by about 45 percent compared to the Rio Games.
Some have speculated that the pandemic, as well as certain Team USA athletes’ embracing of “woke” viewpoints and some not standing for the national anthem, alienated certain viewers, which contributed to the decline in ratings.
“When you look at the numbers, it’s hard to be pleased with them,” Andy Billings, director of the sports communications program at the University of Alabama, told The Associated Press. “It’s probably NBC’s worst-case scenario, but it’s probably a worst-case scenario that they would have been able to predict months ago.”
Team USA, which faltered during the early portion of the Games, finished with the most gold medals during the Games, beating China, which finished in second place.
Team USA’s 39 gold medals are the 11th-most it has won during an Olympics, although it surpassed the totals it amassed during five of the previous eight Summer Games contents. The United States took home 113 medals overall, with 41 silver and 33 bronze.
Japan, which hosted the Games, won 27 gold medals, good enough for third place. Great Britain was fourth with 22 gold medals.
China came in second to the United States with 38 gold medals.
Women’s medals made up nearly 60 percent of Team USA’s total. Team USA’s men won about 41 medals in the Olympic events—the fewest in U.S. history of the modern Games, which started in 1896.
“What an awesome testament to the hard work of these incredible athletes and to those strong women who paved the way before them,” said Sarah Hirshland, chief executive of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, according to The Wall Street Journal. “We are so proud.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.