Rio Olympics 2016 Search Trends: What is the world Googling?


Google Trends has used real-time search data to identify and unusual facets of the Olympics story.

Alternative Medal Table

Inspired by a similar graph developed by the Guardian during the 2012 Olympics, Google’s New Lab Data Editor Simon Rogers sought to answer the question: “what if caring a lot about the Olympics — as represented in Search interest — was how we determined the winner?”

The resulting visualization, Alternative Medal Table, draws upon variables such as:

Olympic Moments

For those following the Olympic story day-by-day, Google Trends also provides an Olympic Moments section. Here, prominent events for each day are contextualised with Google search data. An increase in searches for ‘horse riding near me’ on day four, as well as spikes in people googling why BMX bikes are small and how to tie a Taekwondo belt on day 14 are just a few of the ways Olympic Moments illustrates how audiences engage with events.



Image: Olympics Moments.

Featured Insights

What are the connections between search popularity of a sport and its medal count? How do sports with prominent personalities rank in search results? These are just a couple of the questions explored in the Featured Insights section.

By extracting the top trends for particular sports or personalities, the section unearths unique stories and perspectives on audience behavior.

For example, who would’ve known that although golf has not been part of the Olympic Games in 112 years, searches in golf and the Olympics spike each Olympic year?


Image: Search interest in Golf and Olympics since 2004 globally.

Or that watching weightlifting could spark so much interest in crossfit?


Image: Top five trending queries, globally.

Data from the Google Trends is available for download via GitHub and the Rio Olympics project can be explored further on its page here.