Although he was runner-up at the figure skating world championships Saturday, Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu is still No. 1 with viewers, an International Olympic Committee official said Thursday.
Yiannis Exarchos, the Olympic Channel Services executive director, said at a press conference after the IOC wrapped up its current executive board meetings that Hanyu is the biggest attraction of the IOC's content provider, the Olympic Channel.
"Yuzuru Hanyu is the biggest star of the Olympic channel, not just in Japan but everywhere," Exarchos said. "Figure skating has an extraordinary performance. Obviously, all the content we do for Japanese athletes has a lot of traction, but I would like to single out figure skating as a very special case of increased traffic."
"We have seen Japan exploding and becoming our second country in terms of traffic after the United States and continuously growing," he said.
"We don't even have the rights for figure skating but it has a huge following on the channel there, among other things based on the star quality of Yuzuru," he added.