Lolo Jones Claims Athlete Activism is Contributing to Down Olympic Ratings: People Told Me ‘I Can’t Watch’ After Gwen Berry Protest

TV ratings for the Olympics Opening Ceremony fell to a 33-year low Friday, averaging just 17 million viewers on NBC, which was down a drastic 35% from 2016.

The viewership totals fell in line with most sporting events in the United States, which are experiencing declining TV audiences almost across the board. It is a growing trend in recent years, but one that has escalated since the start of the global pandemic more than 16 months ago.

Lolo Jones joined Sandra Smith on Fox News Channel’s America Reports, where the former track and field star stated one possible explanation for declining Olympic viewership is athlete activism.

“I don’t know the percentage of people that would be tuning out because of those protests,” Jones told Smith. “But I will say that there has to be a percentage of people that are doing that. I had so many people coming up to me after the Gwen Berry protests and saying, ‘I’m sorry, I cannot watch the Olympics after that.’”

Last month, Berry earned a spot on the on the US track and field team after placing third in the hammer throw during Olympic qualifiers. While standing on the podium, Berry turned her back the the American flag as the national anthem played.

A former Olympian herself in both track and field and bobsled, Jones believes there’s a delicate balance between athletes wanting to use their platform to speak up and the general public who prefer sports without politics.

But that balance will be difficult to find. The US women’s soccer team was viciously criticized for taking a knee prior to their first Olympic match last week. The USWNT knelt for 10 seconds to protest racial injustice, but stood during the national anthem.

In addition to athlete activism, Jones also stated the down viewership totals could be caused by retired Olympians such as Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, fans being barred by Covid, and the time difference between Tokyo and the United States.

*story by MEDIAite