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Olympic Games outranks rugby and cricket


Olympic Games outranks rugby and cricket as Kiwis’ favourite global sporting event

With the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games less than two months away, Visa survey finds Games’ spirit and interest high across New Zealand

Auckland, 23 June 2008 –The Olympic Games is New Zealand’s most popular global sporting event, beating out the Rugby World Cup tournament and the Cricket World Cup, according to a new survey[1] released today.

Visa, a proud worldwide Olympic partner, commissioned the survey to seek the views and levels of interest in the Games of people across Asia Pacific. When asked to rank their level of interest in a variety of global sporting events, 78 percent of New Zealand respondents said they were very or quite interested in the Olympic Games. The Rugby World Cup ranked second in popularity, with 65 percent of Kiwis giving it a high ranking and the ICC Cricket World Cup followed with 44 percent.

The Olympic Games far outranked Formula 1 (40 percent of Kiwis surveyed said they were very or quite interested in the event), the FIFA World Cup soccer (given top scores by 36 percent of the Kiwis surveyed) and the Paralympics (33 percent).

Iain Jamieson, Visa’s New Zealand Country Manager, said: “There’s nothing quite like the Olympic Games to bring out people’s passions for celebrating sport and human achievement. We are seeing that borne out in the high level of interest in the Games across the region, especially in New Zealand which is traditionally known as a nation of rugby and cricket enthusiasts. We can expect a strong level of support and interest in the Games as the event draws closer.”

The high level of interest bodes well for the coming Olympic Games, which traditionally attracts billions of viewers. A record-breaking 3.9 billion watched the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, while 3.6 billion watched the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.[2]

Three quarters of Kiwis (75 percent) said they would be interested in the Olympic Games no matter where it was held. But 10 percent said the host city, Beijing, was a strong pull factor.

The opening and closing ceremonies of the Games are the biggest draw for New Zealanders. Sixty-nine percent of them ranked this as the aspect of most interest to them, while 55 percent were interested in particular sporting teams, 51 percent were interested in national team preparation and medal chances and 47 percent were interested in stories about the host city Beijing.

Mr Jamieson said: “Kiwis love to back their sporting heroes, and we at Visa are proudly doing so by throwing our support behind world shot put champion Valerie Vili, Visa’s Olympic Ambassador for New Zealand. The Games really are the ultimate opportunity for people to show their patriotic spirit and the mix of spectacle, athleticism and emotion makes the Olympic Games a compelling event.”

Most popular global sporting events
Rank / Event / % New Zealanders very or quite interested
1 Olympic Games 78
2 Rugby World Cup 65
3 Cricket World Cup 44
4 Formula 1 40
5 FIFA World Cup 36
6 Paralympics 33
7 Youth Olympic Games 19
8 Asian Games 10
Source: Visa/Nielsen survey


About Visa: Visa operates the world’s largest retail electronic payments network providing processing services and payment product platforms. This includes consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments, which are offered under the Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS brands. Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world and Visa/PLUS is one of the world's largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit


[1]Between 17 March and 9 April 2008, Nielsen conducted 4,556 online and door-to-door interviews on behalf of Visa with people aged 18 years and above from nine markets (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and India) to measure interest levels in global sporting events, China as a travel destination and, in particular, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. For each market, quotas were set by key demographic variables to ensure the sample was representative of the general population.

[2] International Olympic Committee,, Global TV viewing of Athens 2004 Olympic Games breaks records, 12 October, 2004.

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