The Winter Olympics is set to begin on 4th February 2022 in Beijing, China. Ahead of the event we asked people around the world for their views on the Games. In the report: the rules and conventions of the Games, the most popular sports, and awareness of the Paralympics.
- On average across all 28 countries, 46% say that they are interested in the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics. This rises to 84% in China and falls to 30% in Germany.
- Figure skating is the most popular event with 27% saying they are interested in following it. Ski jumping and ice hockey are the next top sports (18% select each).
- Public opinion is divided over whether the Olympics should go ahead as planned even if the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t over yet.
- There are low levels of awareness about the sports that will feature in the Paralympics: one in two (50%) say that they do not know.
On average across all 28 countries, a greater proportion say they are not interested (54%) in the Beijing Winter Olympics than are interested (46%). This is level with the public mood in the lead-up to the Tokyo Summer Olympics and slightly down on the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, when 51% said they were interested vs. 49% who said were not.
Looking at specific sporting events, figure skating comes out on top in terms of public interest. The five sports that people around the world say they are most interested in following are:
1. Figure skating (27%)
- China (50%)
- Mexico (47%)
- Russia (46%)
2. Ski jumping (18%)
- Poland (50%)
- India (28%)
- Turkey (27%)
3. Ice hockey (18%)
- India (40%)
- Russia (37%)
- South Africa & Canada (33%)
4. Speed skating (15%)
- Netherlands (38%)
- Colombia (30%)
- South Korea (30%)
- South Africa (26%)
- India & Turkey (22%)
- Brazil & Malaysia (20%)
However, when presented the full list of winter sports, 24% worldwide said that they are not interested in any of them. Larger proportions say this in:
- Germany & Great Britain (42%)
- Australia & Spain (36%)
- Hungary (34%)
Another Pandemic Olympics
It seems that people remain cautious about big international sporting events going ahead in a pandemic context. Only slightly more than half (52%) agree that the Winter Olympics should go ahead as planned, regardless of the Covid-19 situation.
Host nation China is where popular support for Beijing 2022 going ahead is highest (80%) while South Korea, the 2018 host, is where it is lowest (30%).
We find a widespread lack of awareness around the sports that will be part of the Paralympics at Beijing 2022. When asked which six disciplines will feature, 50% of the public on average said that they do not know. Ice hockey is most frequently correctly identified (18%), followed by Snowboarding (14%), Curling (12%), Alpine/Downhill skiing and Cross-country skiing (both 11%), and, finally, Biathlon (10%).
Across all countries, 60% are satisfied with the level of coverage the Paralympics are given in the news and media outlets of their country. In the following countries, people are more likely to say that they do not think that the Paralympics gets enough coverage: Mexico, Great Britain, Malaysia, Turkey, and Colombia.
Attitudes to controversies
We also asked the public for their views on some more controversial issues related to the Olympics:
- A majority in all countries, and 69% on average globally, agree that athletes from countries that have been officially barred for doping should still be allowed to compete under their country’s Olympic banner – if they are not implicated in the doping. Agreement ranges from 61% in both Germany and Hungary to 78% in Saudi Arabia.
- 55% overall agree that it is appropriate for athletes to take a public stand on social or political issues when performing at the Olympics.
- A global country average of 57% agree that there is ‘too much nationalism on display’ at the Olympics. Agreement is highest in Saudi Arabia and Turkey (both 77%) and lowest in Sweden (35%).