People around the world are divided on whether the Tokyo Olympics should go ahead, with Hong Kong support at 46%

Football and athletics are the most popular events, while Hong Kong people are the most excited about aquatic sports - but excitement about the Olympic Games is lacking in many markets.

With the approach of the postponed 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, due to begin on 23rd July 2021, we asked people in 29 markets their views on the event: Should it go ahead? How interested are they personally? What is the impact of the Games on wider society?


Support for Tokyo 2020

Overall, support for the Olympics taking place in summer 2021 is muted, due in part to concerns over Covid-19. On average across the 29 markets surveyed, 43% say the event should go ahead, compared to 57% who say it shouldn’t.

There is greatest support for the Olympics taking place as scheduled in Turkey (71%), Saudi Arabia (66%), Russia (61%) and Poland (60%). Hong Kong support stands at 46%.

Those in host nation Japan are among the most doubtful: 22% say the Olympics should go ahead while 78% say it shouldn’t. South Korea shows the lowest levels of support for the Games taking place (14%).

Q: The Olympics should go ahead in 2021, even if the COVID pandemic isn't over yet.

However, 62% worldwide agree that the Olympics will be an important opportunity for the world to come together following the pandemic, including 66% in Hong Kong. Turkey and Saudi Arabia once again show the highest levels of agreement with this statement (81% in both). South Korea, Japan and Germany are the only markets where fewer than 50% say that the Olympics presents this opportunity to come together.

Q: The Tokyo Olympic Games will be an important opportunity for the world to come together following the pandemic.


We also find there is widespread agreement among the public that the Olympics (generally speaking) has a uniting power. Two-thirds (65%) agree that the Games ‘bring my country together’, rising to 92% in mainland China (against 65% in Hong Kong) and 84% in India. But this falls to 36% in Japan and 37% in Germany.

Levels of interest - overall

There is a mixed picture here, as majorities in 14 of the 29 markets surveyed are very/somewhat interested in the Olympics, but majorities in 15 markets are not very/not at all interested.

Q:How interested are you in the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan?Q3

India, South Africa and China are most interested, while Belgium, South Korea and Japan are least engaged. In total, 55% of Hong Kong people are interested, although only 15% declare being ‘very interested’.


Looking at demographics, male respondents are split 50:50 in terms of their interest in the Olympics (55% interested in Hong Kong) while more women say they are not interested (59% vs. 41%, although in Hong Kong, 54% of women are also interested). Actually in Hong Kong more women (17%) are very interested than men (12%). Globally, older generations also express less interest in the Games (59% of those aged 55-74 are ‘not interested’ vs. 50% of 18-35 year-olds). This trend is not similar in Hong Kong, where the 49% of under 35s are interested, against 60% for those aged 35-49 and 54% for the 50-74, showing least engagement from the younger population.

Levels of interest - events

Looking across the various Olympics events, we find that most people are interested in following football/soccer, followed by athletics/track & field, aquatics (encompassing swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and water polo), then gymnastics. Meanwhile Hong Kong people are the most interested in Aquatics, out of all 29 markets surveyed.

Q: From this list of Olympic events, which three are you most interested in following this year?

Top 4 (global average):

  1. Football/soccer (30%)
  2. Athletics/Track & field (27%)
  3. Aquatics* (22%)
  4. Gymnastics (21%)

*swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and water polo.

Top 5 (Hong Kong):

  1. Aquatics (41%)
  2. Gymnastics (28%)
  3. Volleyball (26%)
  4. Athletics/Track & field (23%)
  5. Football/soccer (22%)

Badminton only comes 6th in Hong Kong at 21%.

For each of the top four sports, the five markets with highest reported interest (% place it in their top 3 from the list of 21 sports):


Impact of the Olympics on society

We also asked people what they think of the Olympics in a wider sense. Some highlights include:

  • A majority worldwide (80%, global average) say that the Olympics inspire younger generations to participate in sport (79% in Hong Kong).
  • Two-thirds (67%, global average) agree that government funding should be used to support the performance of their country’s Olympic athletes (70% in Hong Kong).
  • Seven in 10 (71%, global average) agree that Olympic athletes should be given priority Covid-19 vaccinations. Agreement is high in mainland China (92%), Saudi Arabia (89%), India (88%) and Turkey (87%) but less decisive in Germany (50%), Great Britain (52%), Belgium (54%) and the Netherlands (56%). It is at 83% in Hong Kong.
  • Opinion is split regarding whether there is too much nationalism on display at the Olympics (55% agree and 45% disagree, according to our global average). It stands at 64% in Hong Kong.

Click here to find out more in our global report on the Tokyo Olympics 2020.  



These are the results of a 29-market survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 20,010 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and 16- 74 in 24 other markets between 21st May and 4th June, 2021. The sample consists of approximately 1,000 individuals in each of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, mainland China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the U.S., and 500 individuals in each of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Hungary, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and Turkey. The samples in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S. can be taken as representative of their general adult population under the age of 75. The samples in Brazil, mainland China, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey are more urban, more educated, and/or more affluent than the general population. The survey results for these markets should be viewed as reflecting the views of the more “connected” segment of their population. The data is weighted so that each market’s sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the adult population according to the most recent census data. “The Global market Average” reflects the average result for all the markets and markets where the survey was conducted. It has not been adjusted to the population size of each market or market and is not intended to suggest a total result. Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of “don't know” or not stated responses. The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website. The publication of these findings abides by local rules and regulations.