Americans now see Sochi Olympics as safe – and successful

February 19, 2014, 11:13 AM GMT+0

American attitudes about the Sochi Winter Olympics seem to have turned a corner

Americans didn’t expect the Sochi Olympics to be a success – and they worried about the threat of terrorism. But – with no terrorist acts thus far, and more than a week of spirited competition complete – the latest Economist/YouGov Poll finds half of Americans willing to say the Sochi games have been a success, up 13 points from a week ago.

The sense of success in Sochi may be the lack of any terroristic violence – or American performances in Olympic competition. Despite some unexpected medal losses, the U.S. is battling for the lead in total medals won, and has reached some milestones, including its first ever gold medal in ice dancing and an ice hockey win over Russia.

Those who are watching the Olympics are even more positive. Eight in ten of those who say they have watched lots of events describe the Sochi Games as successful.

Terrorism fears subside

The fear of a terrorist attack at the Olympics, which was high a few weeks ago after bombings in nearby Volgograd, has dissipated. In late January, nearly six in ten Americans had little or no confidence that the Sochi Olympics would be safe from terrorism. That number dropped 16 points last weekend, and has declined another nine points this week. Now, just over half the public has a great deal or a lot of confidence that the Games will be safe from terrorism.

Despite those improving feelings about the Sochi Olympics, Americans are still unwilling to say that the decision to let Russia host the Games was a good one. Only 20% this week think the International Olympic Committee made a good decision awarding the Games to Sochi, not much change from the 17% who said this last week, or the 15% who thought so before the Games began. Nearly half still say it was a bad decision.

Even those most attentive to the Games agree. Just over a third of those who have been watching much of the competition think giving the Games to Sochi was a good decision.

Americans remain sour on Russia and Putin

And despite the apparent success of the Games, Americans still don’t regard Russia as a friend – and still don’t like Russian President Vladimir Putin. More than half the public views Russia as unfriendly or as an enemy of the United States; only one in five think Russia is friendly or an ally. Those results are just about the same as what Americans said at the end of January.

As for President Putin, he continues to be seen unfavorably by a clear majority. In this week’s poll, only 16% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Putin.

Image: Getty

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

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