- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Reports of toxic water, sewage in the sea and discord surrounding the Olympic summer games in Rio de Janeiro  appears to have taken its toll. American interest in the games set to begin Friday have tumbled to a “new low,” according to a  Gallup poll released Tuesday. Only 48 percent of Americans say they plan to watch the games, the survey found.

“This is a sharp drop from 59 percent in 2012 and easily the lowest percentage planning to watch compared with the past four summer games. 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,” reported Gallup analyst Art Swift.

“Many athletes’ decisions to opt out of the games because of concerns about the Zika virus have already blemished the Rio Olympics. Other controversies have marred the games, including the banishment of the Russian track and field and weightlifting teams due to their widespread drug use,” he continued.

“Reports of rooms in the Olympic Village smelling like gas, along with blocked toilets and exposed wires — as well as accounts of sewage in the waters that athletes will swim and row in — have dominated headlines. All of these issues may explain why Americans find the idea of watching the Rio Olympics less appealing than previous Summer Games.”

The new survey found that 49 percent of men and 47 percent of women expressed interest in watching the Olympics. The decline of interest among women is “stark” however. For the 2012 London Olympics, 63 percent of women were in the viewing audience.

“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,” Mr. Swift noted.

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