Driven by a growing lack of interest among women and Zika fears driving top athletes away, more Americans do not plan to watch the summer Olympics than will watch, a first ever result in Gallup polling.
Just four years after the London Olympics scored the highest viewership, just 48 percent plan to watch the games that kick off tonight. A huge 51 percent have little or no plans to watch, a 10-point uptick since 2012.
What's more, said Gallup, "Thirty percent say they plan to watch 'not much' of the Olympics, and 21 percent say 'none at all' — the highest percentage saying so since Gallup began asking this question in 2000."
There are lots of reasons Americans are turning away from the games, but Gallup cited a lack of interest among women, stories about nasty conditions in Rio de Janeiro, and the number of star athletes skipping the games out of concern about the Zika virus in Brazil.
Typically more women than men watch, but this year just 47 percent of women plan to watch, a big drop from the 63 percent who did in 2012.
The bottom line, said Gallup:
"For the first time since Gallup began asking this question in 2000, Americans are almost evenly split as to whether they will watch the Olympics. The Olympic Games have been a rallying cry for nations since ancient times, and certainly since the modern Olympics resumed in 1896. Yet with concerns about the Zika virus keeping many American athletes at home, on top of allegations of drug use among participants and recent reports of unsafe conditions in the Olympic Village, Americans seem to have lost interest."
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com