Why we’re watching the Olympics

Gymnastics - Artistic - Olympics: Day 6
Sunisa Lee of Team USA competes on balance beam during the women's all-around final on day six of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre.
Jamie Squire | Getty Images

Even with the ups and downs of viewership because of time changes or politics, the Olympic Games are consistently a huge hit, which might explain why Japan spent $12 billion to bring them there. It also explains the $800 million it’s losing in ticket sales but hopes to make up in future tourism. 

There’s a lot at stake for everyone: money, bragging rights and status as a sports icon. So there’s no mystery as to why athletes train a lifetime for a few moments of competition. And why the entire sports-industrial complex joins the cheering crowd. 

Host Angela Davis speaks with a trio of sports reporters about the enduring appeal of the Olympics.


  • BBC Reporter Maz Farookhi covers sports.

  • Stefan Fatsis is the author of several books — one about being a place kicker, another about baseball and a third about competitive scrabble. He’s a former Wall Street Journal Reporter, and a regular on All Things Considered.

  • Naila-Jean Meyers is a senior assistant sports editor at the Star Tribune.

Subscribe to the MPR News with Angela Davis podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify or RSS.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.