Americans show signs of ambivalence about the Olympics

But are most looking forward to watching gymnastics and Simone Biles.

The author(s)

  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Senior Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
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July 20- With the Olympic Games set to begin this Friday, the global public shows some signs of diffidence about their taking place. Few in Japan believe the games should proceed, while Americans are split on whether they’re interested in watching them at all.

Meanwhile, American workers are restless. Particularly, younger workers are thinking about seeking out new opportunities, driven by the prospect of higher pay and a sense of burnout.

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While the world is watching soccer, America watches Gymnastics

What Olympic events countries around the world are most excited about says a lot about how they fit into the global community.

For most around the world, football or soccer is the biggest event at the Olympics, but for Americans, it ranks low among the events people in the States are excited to see. Gymnastics is the number one sport Americans are looking forward to, possibly due to American dominance in the field, with accomplished athletes like Simone Biles set to compete this year. Other American favorites that the rest of the world isn’t excited about include sports like aquatics, possibly connected to the decade’s long dominance of American swimmers, like Michael Phelps.

Despite some of these differences, other mainstays of the Summer Games, like track and field, are relatively popular in the U.S. and globally.

Few in Japan feel the Olympics should go ahead in 2021

The Opening Ceremony for the 2021 Summer Olympics takes place this Friday in Tokyo, and, despite its imminent approach, few people in Japan believe that the Olympics should be taking place.

Less than a quarter of people in Japan and South Korea feel that the Olympics should go ahead in 2021, even if the COVID pandemic isn’t over yet. Those closest to the games are among the least likely to support them.

After being postponed last year due to the COVID pandemic, the Olympics is happening. Still, COVID-19 remains a pressing issue in Japan, the host country, and surrounding areas due to a lethargic vaccine rollout. As athletes arrived at the Olympic Village over the weekend, some began testing positive for COVID-19.

Americans most excited to see Simone Biles at the Olympics

Simone Biles, the decorated gymnast who has broken record after record, is beating her fellow Olympians on another front: America’s favorite athlete.

While she is unquestionably the athlete Americans are most excited to watch, women are more likely to feel this way than men, with one in three saying they are most excited to watch her, ten points ahead of men.

But, despite the enthusiasm for Biles, a similar share of Americans have no favorite athlete competing at the Olympics, possibly driving down overall enthusiasm for the Olympics. Notably, an additional one in three don’t plan on watching the Olympics at all, Ipsos polling finds.

Who is interested in watching the Olympics in the United States?

Days away from the Olympic Opening Ceremony, not all Americans are interested in tuning into the Games. Two in three expressed some level of interest in the Games (with about half registering lukewarm interest), leaving roughly one in three people not at all interested in watching the competitions.

Those under 35 (54%), people on the higher end of the salary bracket (51%), those with higher education (59%), employed people (56%), and Democrats (56%) are all among the most interested in watching the Olympics.

Still, between the mixed feelings Americans have about seeing the Olympics continue despite the pandemic and fewer star-studded athletes to follow, the Summer Games are not engaging everyone.

Workers on the move

As the country reemerges, workers are feeling newly empowered to seek out new opportunities, primarily driven by the prospect of higher wages and a sense of burnout. Across generations, Gen Zers and millennials are most likely to be looking for something new, according to Ipsos research.

Close to half Gen Z say they are either looking or recently found a new gig. Considering that this generation is either college-age or recently graduated, their job hunting is likely primarily related to them either entering the workforce for the first time or maneuvering as they start out in their careers.

One in three millennials are also on the move but are disproportionately likely to be driven by burnout and the search for higher wages. As the generation that entered the workforce in the throes of the Great Recession, their early career prospects and wage earning potential took a hit. The data suggest that a not insignificant percentage of this generation is now looking to capitalize on the current, worker-friendlier environment to make up for that lost potential.

Younger employees feel most empowered in the post-pandemic labor market

Compared to last year, younger generations tend to feel more confident than older generations about their ability to carve out a fulfilling and remunerative career. Gen Z-ers, however, are more confident than older workers (like Gen X and Boomers) of their ability to negotiate the conditions of their future employment, current employment and ability to work environment.

This divide may again point to millennials feeling like the economy has not always worked in their favor. But it also alludes to changing expectations among younger generations that workplace evolve and become more flexible to accommodate their needs, particularly as compared to Gen X and Boomers.

The author(s)

  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Senior Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs