A Gallup poll released Tuesday found that most Americans do not plan to watch the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro "much" or "at all," unlike in previous years.
Only 48 percent of Americans said they plan to watch a "great deal" or "fair amount" of the world games, which start this weekend. It's an 11-point drop since the London Summer Games in 2012 and the lowest recorded level of excitement in the 16-year-running poll, according to the July 13-17 survey.
The opening ceremony will be held Friday, but 51 percent of Americans do not intend to watch much of the 17-day competitions. That number has jumped 10 points since 2012.
Women are overwhelmingly less interested in watching the games than men. Women historically have voiced more excitement than men about tuning in. But this year that percentage dropped 16 points, from 63 percent in 2012 to 47 percent. The drop among men was much smaller, from 53 percent four years ago to 49 percent now.
A number of factors may be turning away people from watching the games unfold in South America's first Olympics.
The runup to the games has been full of problems. President Dilma Rousseff was impeached for corruption, the state of Rio hosting the games almost financially collapsed in June, concerns about the Zika virus — Brazil has been considered ground zero — is keeping some athletes away, and the subway system, which was supposed to be completed months ago, was just finished this week. Some of the venues have already had to be repaired.
Concern about the security of the athletes is high. The Australian team was not able to move in to the Olympic Village last week on time because of the many problems in the rooms, from clogged toilets, to unfinished construction and exposed wires. After they had moved in, some of the team's clothing and computers were stolen during an evacuation for a fire.
In the weeks before the games, several athletes from various countries were robbed and held up at gunpoint.
One of the biggest concerns is the unsanitary conditions of the water where sailing, rowing, open water swimming and the triathlons will be held. As part of its bid, the Rio organizing committee promised that it would clean up its waterways. Instead, the water in the bays and on the famous Copacabana Beach is contaminated with raw human sewage teeming with dangerous viruses and bacteria, according to a 16-month study commissioned by the Associated Press.
Finally, Russia's doping scandal has cast a bad light on the games. All Russian athletes will have to pass extra rigorous drug testing to be allowed to participate.
The Gallup poll was conducted by telephone with more than 1,000 U.S. adults and had a 4 percent margin of error.