It’s not all Fun and Games at the 2018 Winter Olympics

While the Olympics are often a welcome worldwide distraction from the events of the day, concerns about geopolitical affairs are impacting how we view the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Many view the games as too nationalist and too corporate and are concerned about safety at the games, according to a new Ipsos Global Advisor poll.

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  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, US
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About half said they were worried about a terrorist attack taking place during the games, according to the survey of 13,514 adults from more than 25 countries. More broadly, people are concerned about the posturing of nations and sponsors alike. This can detract from the theoretical intent of the games to showcase the talents of amateur athletes and the glory of sport and competition. When asked whether they felt the Olympics displayed too much nationalism, there is a near-even split. A majority feel the games have become too corporate.

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Key world influencers from Great Britain and the U.S. to China to Brazil highlighted the split with vastly differing viewpoints on whether nationalism will negatively affect the Games. Noticeably, countries classified as having developed economies are less concerned (43%) about nationalistic tendencies in the games than those in emerging economy nations (51%).

While opinions are divided with regards to nationalism, more consensus is evident in terms of the games public image where three-in-five (60%) say they agree that the Olympics have become too corporatised due to sponsorship.

Seven-in-ten (71%) South Koreans, who seemingly will benefit the most from their country hosting the Olympics, overwhelmingly agree that the games have become too corporate. Neighboring countries such as China and India echo that sentiment. Western nations including the U.S., France, Great Britain, and Germany are less likely to be critical of Olympic corporatisation.

With high tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the promise of worldwide fanfare appears to be serving as a method of easing an otherwise escalating conflict. This was recently evident when a North Korean delegation successful negotiated their athlete’s participation in the upcoming games.

Despite these diplomatic efforts there is still concern about how North Korea will behave during the event. Among global respondents, 50% are worried that North Korea will attempt to do something provocative. North Korean allies, such as China (44%) and Russia, however, appear to be less concerned whereas the U.S. (58%) and South Korea (52%), opponents of the North Korean regime, expressed greater concerns. Curiously, South American countries were among the nations that showed the highest concern with Peru (63%), Chile (61%), and Argentina (59%) all among the top 5 in terms of showing the most concern.

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, US

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