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Most watched, talked about Olympic athletes on Facebook and Instagram—in PH, globally

By Tanya Lara Published Aug 10, 2021 8:11 pm

What an Olympics Tokyo 2020 turned out to be! For the Philippines, it was a historic one with our first gold medal and best performance yet with a gold, two silvers and a bronze.

Drama, upsets and shock exits were not lacking either. Tennis star Naomi Osaka lost in the third round, Novak Djokovic failed to win even a bronze medal, and gymnastics’ greatest of all time Simone Biles pulled out of team competition due to her mental health (though she returned for one individual event and won bronze).

Biles’ sudden exit put mental health in the spotlight and while she got enormous support from fans and teammates, she was also criticized for not “toughening” up to compete under pressure.

Facebook and Instagram tracked interest in the Olympics as shown through people’s posts and interactions—with the most interesting results.

While skateboarder Margielyn Didal did not win a medal, she won the hearts of people around the world with her infectious smile and enthusiasm. By the end of the Olympics’ first week (July 30), she hauled more followers on social media than any other Filipino athlete—adding more than 679,000 Instagram followers (+1,139%). Her competition post on Instagram was the most popular post by a Filipino athlete with over 589,000 interactions after the first week of the Games.

After the Olympics wrapped up, gold medalist weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz was the third most talked about athlete on Facebook. She trails after American gymnast Simone Biles and Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra as the top three most mentioned athletes on Facebook globally throughout the Games.

Facebook also reports that the Philippines was No. 4 loudest country on the platform engaging about the Olympics. Ahead of it are India, US, Brazil, and followed by Mexico—completing the top 5 ranking.

“Globally, athletes gained more than 75 million followers and drove more than 410 million interactions on Instagram over the course of the Games,” the report says.

Athletes also created more than 300,000 Stories. Brazil’s Rayssa Leal owned her moment on social media with the skateboarder adding the most followers (5.8 million) and drove the most interactions (18.44 million) on Instagram of all athletes competing in Tokyo. She also had the most-liked Olympic-related Instagram post (4 million+ likes) and most-viewed Instagram video (11 million+ views) during the Games.

Together with Leal, Simone Biles and Neeraj Chopra continued to dominate Instagram, ranking as the top mentioned athletes on the platform, and likewise gaining the most followers over the course of the games globally.

Here’s a look at the complete standings based on data from July 23 to Aug. 8:


Loudest countries engaging about the Olympics over the course of the Games (ranked by number of people talking about Olympics on Facebook):

  1. India
  2. United States
  3. Brazil
  4. Philippines
  5. Mexico

Most mentioned sports on Facebook over the course of the Games (globally):

  1. Track and Field
  2. Gymnastics
  3. Rowing
  4. Boxing
  5. Swimming

Most mentioned athletes on Facebook over the course of the Games (globally):

  1. ​​Simone Biles
  2. Neeraj Chopra
  3. Hidilyn Diaz
  4. Suni Lee
  5. Tom Daley

Top Emojis on Facebook over the course of the Games (globally):

  • Red Heart
  • Clapping Hands Sign
  • Face with Tears of Joy

Days with the most Olympic-related conversation on Facebook:

  1. Saturday, Aug. 7 (Neeraj Chopra wins gold for India, Team USA basketball wins gold)
  2. Wednesday, July 28 (the day after Simone Biles withdraws from the gymnastics team competition)
  3. Monday, Aug. 2 (Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu win gold in badminton)

Global athlete Facebook post that drove the most interactions over the course of the games:

  • Tai Tzu Ying’s post thanking everyone for their support while she competed in Tokyo is the Facebook post from an athlete that drove the most interactions over the course of the Games, with more than 1.3 million interactions.


  • Athletes gained more than 75 million followers on Instagram over the course of the Games.
  • Athletes drove more than 410 million interactions.
  • Athletes posted more than 300,000 Stories.

Most mentioned athletes on Instagram over the course of the Games (globally):

  1. Neeraj Chopra (Track and Field, India) / @neeraj____chopra
  2. Simone Biles (Gymnastics, USA) / @simonebiles
  3. Rayssa Leal (Skateboarding, Brazil) / @rayssalealsk8
  4. Greysia Polii (Badminton, Indonesia) / @greyspolii
  5. Apriyani Rahayu (Badminton, Indonesia) / @r.apriyanig

Athletes who gained the most Instagram followers over the course of the Games (globally):

  1. Rayssa Leal (Skateboarding, Brazil) - 5.8 million (+667% increase)
  2. Neeraj Chopra (Track and Field, India) - 2.6 million (+1.9m% increase)
  3. Simone Biles (Gymnastics, USA) - 2.3 million (+53% increase)
  4. Rebeca Andrade (Gymnastics, Brazil) - 2.1 million (+868% increase)
  5. Italo Ferreira (Surfing, Brazil) - 1.8 million (+175% increase)
  6. Valentina Acosta Giraldo (Archery, Colombia) - 1.6 million (+623% increase)
  7. Douglas Souza (Volleyball, Brazil) - 1.4 million (+78% increase)
  8. Tom Daley (Diving, Great Britain) - 1.259 million (+60% increase)
  9. Leticia Bufoni (Skateboarding, Brazil) - 1.249 million (+41% increase)
  10. Sunisa Lee (Gymnastics, USA) - 1.242 million (+511% increase)

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tom Daley (@tomdaley)

Athletes who drove the most interactions on Instagram during the Games (globally):

  1. Rayssa Leal (Skateboarding, Brazil) - 18.44 million
  2. Simone Biles (Gymnastics, USA) - 17.9 million
  3. Dani Alves (Football, Brazil) - 12.59 million
  4. Rebeca Andrade (Gymnastics, Brazil) - 10.33 million
  5. Italo Ferreira (Surfing, Brazil) - 7.97 million
  6. Douglas Souza (Football, Brazil) - 7.67 million
  7. Suni Lee (Gymnastics, USA) - 6.3 million
  8. Luka Doncic (Basketball, Slovenia) - 4.84 million
  9. Tai Tzu-Ying (Badminton, Taiwan) - 4.72 million
  10. Gabriel Medina (Surfing, Brazil) - 4.70 million

Most-liked Instagram post from an athlete (globally):

Most-viewed Instagram video by an athlete:

  • Rayssa Leal’s video of her skateboarding journey is the most-liked video from an athlete over the course of the Games, with more than 11 million views.

Most-played Olympic-related Reels during the Games (globally):


Of people that were talking about the Olympics’ first week (July 30), 32% were between 18 and 24 years old. “This age group is the most involved in the conversation about the Olympics followed closely by the 25-34-year-old age group,” according to data from the two platforms.

Women were also more involved in the conversation about the Olympics (55%).

The most talked about athletes on Facebook in the Philippines were Hidilyn Diaz, Nesthy Petecio, and Margielyn Didal. The most talked about sports were weightlifting, boxing and skateboarding.

Banner photos from AFP (Hidilyn Diaz and Simone Biles) and from the Instagram accounts of Tom Daley and Rayssa Leal