Outkick founder and radio host Clay Travis thinks “a genuine lack of American spirit” is among several reasons for the decreased interest in the Tokyo Olympics.
The opening ceremony, delayed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, drew 16.7 million viewers for NBC on Friday, the smallest audience for the network broadcast since the 1988 Seoul Games. Reuters described Friday’s fall as a “steep drop.”
Travis said Monday the time difference is a “massive” issue but it’s hardly the only reason why Americans don’t seem to be as interested in the Olympics as in past years.
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“In past years you didn’t necessarily have the ability to see all the highlights on social media and whatnot beforehand, so I think that’s massive,” Travis said on “American’s Newsroom.”
“I also think there is a genuine lack of American spirit right now, because of the tone set by many of the athletes that are at the Olympics,” Travis said, alluding to athletes who have protested during the playing of the national anthem.
The Tokyo ratings factored in both the live broadcast early Friday morning and a primetime re-airing.
The Outkick founder said “the fact that these are the COVID” games also plays a part in the lack of interest.
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“The swim competition, when they won, the athletes stood on the medal stands with masks on and I’m just watching this thinking, ‘How much cosmetic theater can we have?’ There is already no fans present, all of the athletes are competing against each other without masks on, and then you make them stand with masks on while the ceremonies take place on the medal stands,” Travis said. “I think there are a lot of people out there who just feel like whatever usual Olympic spirit there is, isn’t there.”
While most Olympic opening ceremonies have enjoyed packed stadiums, Friday’s unprecedented event featured only 1,000 spectators in the stands, one of whom was First Lady Jill Biden. Organizers had initially planned to allow Olympic venues to be filled to 50% capacity but crowds not to exceed 10,000. However, they ultimately decided against spectators following a recent rise in COVID cases.
Travis noted that high-profile Olympic legends such as Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt have retired.
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“I just don’t think there are as compelling of storylines, I think a lot of athletes have alienated mainstream American fans, and then toss in the huge time difference, it feels like a recipe for disaster,” Travis said.
Host Dana Perino then asked a question on the minds of millions of Americans: “How can the United States men’s basketball team lose to France?”
“I know,” Travis said. “First of all, I think America has made the sport of basketball much more global and the overall talent level has increased. We don’t have a very well-put together squad, I think that factors in and Gregg Popovich, who is the new coach … he doesn’t seem to be able to push the same buttons that Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] has. The U.S. is still favored to win the gold medal but they certainly have given a lot of reasons to believe that they will not.”
Perino joked, “I just thought it was funny that it was France.”
The conservation then shifted to whether or not the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will have fans, but Travis feels it should be a moot point.
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“I don’t think the United States or other democracies should go to Beijing,” he said. “I think we should throw our own Winter Olympics, we could easily do it … I don’t think we can bend the knee to China, travel over to Beijing after what they’ve done with COVID … and all the basic human rights disasters that are taking place in Hong Kong, I think it sends a bad message.”
Fox News’ Cortney O’Brien contributed to this report.