May 29, 2024

The Winter Olympics officially ended on Feb. 20 after lots of ups and downs, but not just for the athletes. 

International viewership was at an all-time low for the Games for multiple reasons. Only 11.4 million people watched during Olympic primetime, a significant decrease from the 2018 Olympics.

There were several political issues surrounding the games and COVID-19 was still ongoing. Multiple countries, including Canada, avoided sending officials to the Games because there are ongoing human rights issues in China. Athletes were still allowed to compete but no Canadian federal government officials attended.

Although some Canadians said they would not watch the games because of political issues when the Games rolled around, many still watched to support the hard work of the athletes.

“Personally it didn’t really affect me because I enjoy cheering on Canada,” said Paris Leconte, an avid Winter Olympics fan. 

The time difference was also an issue Canadian fans faced. Beijing is essentially a day ahead so all the events occurred overnight for Canadians. 

“I found watching hard because all of the good events were at 2 .a.m.,” said Paul Eaton, another Winter Olympics fan. “Most times I would just record the events I wanted to see and watch them in the morning.”

There were lots of big stories out of The Winter Olympics and many that involved Canadian athletes. The women’s hockey team reclaiming their gold medal was the high point for Canadian fans.

Paris Leconte sports her Team Canada gear and cheers the athletes on from Cambridge, Ontario on Feb. 19, 2022. Photo by Paris Leconte

Despite the poor viewership overall, the women’s hockey final between Canada and the United States was the most-watched event of the entire Games. A total average of 3.54 million viewers watched the final. This number is more than any National Hockey League (NHL) game this season has averaged. 

“This was probably my favourite event at the Olympics,” said Leconte. “I love watching women play hockey, especially on this type of stage.”

From Sarah Nurse breaking the all-time points record to Marie-Phillip Poulin scoring her third golden goal at the Olympics, Team Canada dominated on the women’s side.

The tournament did not go as planned on the men’s side; they lost in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006. 

“It was very disappointing, but when the NHL players said they couldn’t go, most people were expecting this result from Canada,” said Eaton. 

Outside of Canadian news, another big story was the Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC’s) Kamila Valieva testing positive for a drug. The doping violation came to light after the team figure skating event; she was still allowed to compete in the women’s event. 

“I think it was unfair to the other athletes that she was allowed to compete. You need to be sure of what is going into your body as a professional athlete,” said Eaton.

The next Olympics will be held in 2026 in Milan and Cortina in Italy. 

“I’m looking forward to the 2026 Winter Olympics, it’s always fun to cheer on your country on the biggest stage,” said Leconte.

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