Rio Olympics 2016 on Twitter: Positive Sentiment (75%), Water Sports, Simone Biles Win

Who were the most talked about athletes in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games? Which sport was most cited by users? What was the overall sentiment? This analysis by Expert System provides the detailed answers.

By Expert System.

These are some of the questions addressed in the most recent Twitter analysis by Expert System. Using its cognitive technology Cogito, Expert System analyzed more than 430,000 tweets to identify the main Olympics-related topics discussed on Twitter between August 5-22.

Most mentioned athletes: Michael Phelps and Serena Williams

Most mentioned male athletes:

  • US swimmer Michael Phelps
  • Nigerian table tennis player Aruna Quadri,
  • Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt,
  • badminton players Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) and Lin Dan (China),
  • UK tennis player Andy Murray,
  • Israeli Judoka Or Sasson,
  • French Judoka Teddy Riner,
  • German equestrian Michael Jung and
  • Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling.

Most mentioned female athletes:

  • US tennis star Serena Williams
  • US sabre fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad (who fenced in hijab),
  • US gymnast Simone Biles,
  • Irish sailor Annalise Murphy,
  • US swimmer Simone Manuel,
  • US swimmer Katie Ledecky,
  • Puerto Rico tennis player Monica Puig,
  • Brazil judoka Rafaela Silvia,
  • US shooter (10 m air rifle) Ginny Thrasher, and
  • Australian gymnast Danielle Prince.

Rio Olympics Most Loved Athletes
Fig 1.  Most Loved Athletes - Women: Simone Biles , Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky. Men:  Justin Rose, Mo Farah, Michael Jung and Michael Phelps.

The sentiment

Positive sentiment in tweets prevailed for Simone Biles (96%), Simone Manuel (86%), Katie Ledecky (86%) and for UK golf player Justin Rose (95%) followed by Mo Farah (84%) and 78% for both Michael Jung and Michael Phelps.

By looking at the results of Twitter analysis, the athletes are related to specific adjectives.


  • The one and only Simone Biles
  • The victorious  Simone Manuel
  • The unreal Katie Ledecky



  • The inspired Justin Rose
  • The incredible Mo Farah
  • The greatest Michael Phelps.
  • The exquisite Michael Jung.

The most talked about sport: Swimming


Water sports were the most cited category overall: swimming came in first, followed by sailing, handball and rowing; tennis was the fifth most mentioned sport.


The Cogito technology identifies the meaning of words and phrases to determine the context of both words and sentence constructions for an overall mood of positive or negative sentiment. For the over 430,000 tweets analyzed, positive sentiment (75%) prevailed, even among tweets containing verbs and words that typically evoke negative sentiment such as “unacceptable”, “lose”, “fail”, “pain”, “penalty”, “sad”, “miss”, “bad”, or “useless”.

Positive Sentiment

Rio Olympics Positive Sentiment Words

Fig 2: 2016 Rio Olympics: Positive Sentiment Words.

Not just athletes

Use of terms typical of the sporting world were prevalent (“win”, “gold”, “medal”, “final”, “team”, “silver”, “bronze”, “watch”, “play”, “match”, “game”, “athletics”), including congratulatory words and phrases (“congrats”, “congratulations”, “thanks”, “champion”, “round”, “good luck”, “result”). More common than the names of individual athletes, words such as “woman”, “girl” and “man” prevailed, reflecting the overall humanity (the Refugee Olympic Team, personal stories of individual athletes, Muslim women, etc.) of this year’s Olympic games.

The infographic containing the full analysis is available here