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The psychology behind Olympic fever: Why do we get so excited about it?

A psychologist explains to Kate Ng why the global sporting competition is unique in its ability to foster a sense of community and inspire people

Monday 09 August 2021 16:40
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<p>Women's 470 gold medalist Eilidh McIntyre (centre) of Team Great Britain pose with other Team GB medalists</p>

Women's 470 gold medalist Eilidh McIntyre (centre) of Team Great Britain pose with other Team GB medalists

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics ended on Sunday after weeks of competition, triumph, and defeat, but the celebrations over Team GB’s 65 medals across 23 events are continuing throughout the country.

Despite travel to the games being severely restricted, from the moment that the world’s largest sporting event kicked off two weeks ago, Britain was spellbound. The Discovery channel, the US pay-TV channel that bought the European TV rights to broadcast the games, said last week that a record number of people signed up to its subscription service to watch the Olympic coverage.

Whilst the deal severely limited the BBC’s coverage of the games, viewers still tuned in in droves to watch. For example, according to BARB figures, the men’s 100m final drew 5.1 million TV viewers on the BBC alone.

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