Sports-mad Aussies moved by Commonwealth Games, Olympic and Paralympic athletes


We’re a nation of sport lovers and participants who are proud of and inspired by our Commonwealth Games, Olympic and Paralympic athletes, with new data from Sport Australia showing four in five of us are proud of the athletes representing the nation at these global events.


Sport Australia’s latest AusPlay report focuses on participation in Summer Olympic and Paralympic sports finding that 10.4 million Australian adults play an Olympic sport and 1.8 million volunteer in Olympic sports.

The report includes AusPlay data which identifies sport and physical activity habits across Australia, and Sport Australia’s other survey tool, the Community Perceptions Monitor, which captures public attitudes towards sport.

Four in five Australian adults aged 18+ say Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games athletes can make them feel proud. This is higher than for other Australian national athletes and teams. As might be expected, those Australians who love to play and watch sport have the strongest feelings of pride in Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games athletes but our athletes even have an impact on those Australians who are “Not interested” in sport; around a third say they can be made to feel proud.

Collectively, the report shows the 49 member sports of Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA), the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and Paralympics Australia (PA) represent more than 13 million participants and millions more volunteers across the Australian sporting sector.

Minister for Sport, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck said the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics present another great opportunity to get Australians more active and involved in sport.

“The report shows that Australians love participating in Olympic sports and also feel a lot of pride and are inspired by our Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games athletes further highlighting that sport really is an essential part of Australian life.”

It is also a ringing endorsement for Australia’s current bid to host the 2032 Brisbane Olympics and Paralympics.

Australian Commonwealth Games team chef de mission Petria Thomas OAM believes 2022 will provide an unprecedented opportunity for Australian athletes and their sports to shine on the world stage and in the eyes of the Australian public, which is reflected in the results of the survey.

“With the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to 2021, there was always going to be a domino effect of rescheduling world sport,” Thomas said.

“2022 is certainly going to be a bumper year of sport and there is going to be a unique set of opportunities for our athletes to compete on the world stage.

“There is going to be a lot of action and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games are right smack bang in the middle of it.”

An overview of results of the AusPlay survey. (Sport Australia)


Now with only 80 days to Tokyo Olympics, 112 to Paralympics and 449 to Commonwealth Games, the bumper year of sport is upon us.

Sport Australia Acting CEO Rob Dalton said the results show the Commonwealth Games, Olympics and Paralympics impact us all, whether it’s playing a sport, volunteering or being inspired watching Australia’s Olympians and Paralympians compete later this year and Commonwealth Games Team Members next year.

“Just over 7 million Australians participate in athletics, swimming or cycling each year, making them the most popular Olympic sports,” Mr Dalton said.

Athletics (including running/jogging) is the most popular sport for men while swimming is the most popular sport for women. When it comes to Olympic team sports, football/soccer and basketball are played the most.

“More men participate in shooting, rugby union and mountain biking, while more female participants enjoy equestrian, gymnastics and softball,” Mr Dalton added.

Around four in five adults with long-term disability also participate in some kind of sport or physical activity at least once a year. The top three Paralympic sports are swimming, cycling and athletics making them the same as Olympic sports but in a different order.

Mr Dalton said now is the perfect time to get involved in sport, either as a participant or volunteer adding that you don’t have to play the sport you volunteer in.

“Sports such as rugby union, football/soccer, gymnastics and basketball have a higher number of volunteers who don’t play. In many cases, this could be a parent volunteering to coach their child’s sporting team, but it highlights you just need the time and willingness to get involved and you will enjoy the many benefits that come with being a part of the sporting community.”

More than 3.5 million (or 73 per cent) children participate in an organised sport or physical activity outside of school hours with 2.9 million (or 61 per cent) playing an Olympic sport, with swimming the most popular for both boys and girls.

The report also highlights that there is a Summer Olympic or Paralympic sport for everyone and every age. Sports like athletics, hockey, volleyball, swimming and rowing have similar numbers of male and female participants, while over-55s dominate sports such as golf, sailing, shooting and table tennis.

AusPlay provides the sport sector with vital insights into the sport and physical activity behaviours of adults and children and critical evidence to inform strategies to grow participation.

How many Australian adults participate in an Olympic sport^?

  • 18.3 million adults participate in some kind of sport or physical activity (90 per cent)
  • 10.4 million adults participate in an Olympic sport (51 per cent)
  • 2.1 million adults only participate in Olympic sports (11 per cent)
  • The majority of participation in Olympic sport (76 per cent) is ‘organised’ so participated in through an organisation or at a venue

^Australians aged 15+ who participate in an Olympic sport at least once a year.

Sports with fun/enjoyment as their top motivation*:

  • Surfing, 81 per cent
  • Sailing, 77 per cent
  • Skate sports, 76 per cent
  • Equestrian, 74 per cent
  • Canoeing/kayaking and table tennis, 66 per cent

*Proportion of participants of each sport giving it as a reason for participating.

Sports with physical health/fitness as their top motivation^^:

  • Weightlifting, 83 per cent
  • Athletics (running/jogging), 82 per cent
  • Boxing, 75 per cent
  • Rowing, 74 per cent
  • Cycling, 65 per cent

^^Proportion of participants of each sport giving it as a reason for participating.


Top Olympic sports for Australian children:

Top Olympic sports for boys Top Olympic sports for girls
Swimming (32%) Swimming (35%)
Football (22%) Gymnastics (15%)
Basketball (9%) Football (7%)
Tennis (7%) Athletics (5%)
Athletics (5%) Basketball (5%)
Gymnastics (4%) Tennis (5%)


Read the full report at



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