Football, swimming most sort after sports in Olympics

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New Delhi, 17 Jul (UNI) Some of the toughest competitions during the next month's Beijing Games may be at home over the television remote control, according to a visa survey which shows a divergence between men's and women's interests in Olympic sports.

Of the 4,556 people from the Asia Pacific region who were asked which Olympic sporting events most interested them, swimming, football and gymnastics were the clear overall winners, but scratch the surface and differences between men and women became more apparent.

It appears the biggest battle will be over football, with a 19 percentage point difference between men's interest (53 per cent) and women's interest (34 per cent).

Men said they were also more interested in baseball and boxing than women, while women were more interested in watching gymnastics and swimming - particularly synchronized swimming.

Santanu Mukherjee, country manager, South Asia, Visa Asia Pacific said: ''While the findings show that men and women are interested in different events, it is heartening to see a strong interest in the Olympic Games overall and the spirit of faster, higher, stronger that runs through every Olympic event.'' It may be more than a battle of the sexes the family lounge room may also see generational disparity over which sports to watch.

According to the Visa survey findings, people over 45 are twice as interested in athletics and baseball as those aged 18-24, while younger people are far more likely to watch hockey, boxing and tennis.

Mukherjee continued by saying, ''What is interesting is that the passion for sport is the unifying factor amid the diversity of views and interests of the supporters. This passion is what helps create the colour and excitement at the Games, and is why the Olympic Games are such an important event in the global sporting calendar.'' UNI RAR ND1616

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