Americans are split on whether the Tokyo 2020 Olympics should be postponed again

June 04, 2021, 2:10 PM UTC

Last April, during a peak in COVID-19 cases, the International Olympic Committee postponed the Summer Olympics - due to be held in Tokyo - for a year. At the time, Americans supported that decision. This year, the virus is still with us, and another postponement is being discussed.

In the latest Economist/YouGov poll, Americans aren’t sure of whether it is safe for the Tokyo Olympics to be held this year, or should they be postponed another year due to COVID-19. As many would postpone the Games again (36%) as would have them played this summer (37%).

Republicans, who in general are less concerned about contracting COVID-19, are more likely (48% vs 26%) than Democrats (25% vs 50%) to want Tokyo 2020 to go on as (re)scheduled. Independents also tend to want to see the Games played on the new schedule (48% vs 31%). So do men (42% vs 32%), those under the age of 30 (36% vs 27%), and the quarter of adults who say they will be watching “lots of events” either daily or when they can (47% vs 36%). 

An Asahi Shimbun Poll conducted in Japan last month found 83% of voters there saying the Games should be postponed or canceled. 

The highest levels of interest in this year’s Games –  if they are held – is not much different from what it was five years ago in an Economist/YouGov poll conducted before the Rio 2016 Olympics. Then, one in four (28%) also said they would be watching “a lot of events.” 

However, this year more say they will watch “none” of the Olympics than said so in 2016 (42% this year compared to 28% in 2016). That poll was conducted one month before the Games started, while this year’s Olympics are set to begin a little over six weeks from now.  

Rio 2016 had its own health scare: two-thirds of Americans (68%) in the 2016 poll said there was a large or moderate risk that the Games could lead to the Zika virus coming back to the United States with returning athletes.  

Related: Most Americans now believe the coronavirus originated from a laboratory in China 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov poll 

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between May 22 - 25, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.9% for the overall sample. 

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