Most Americans will watch little or none of this month’s Olympics, and are not sure it was a good decision to hold the (delayed) Games in Tokyo. However, the public agrees that keeping spectators out because of coronavirus concerns is the right move. In this week’s Economist/YouGov poll, relatively few of those who are likely to watch would choose to attend the Games even if they could afford it (27%).
There is little partisan difference in wanting to attend the Olympics, though men and younger adults would be more interested in going in person than women and older Americans. These groups are also more likely to be watching the Games. Overall, half the public claims it will not be watching at all or aren’t sure what they will do.
When it comes to the wisdom of allowing the games to go ahead during the pandemic, there is little demographic or political difference. Only 22% believe the Olympics Organizing Committee made a good decision holding the Games at all this summer. One in three (31%) call it a bad decision and nearly half have no opinion.
If the Games are to be held, Americans do approve of keeping spectators away, by nearly two to one at 51% vs 27%. That opinion is directly related to whether people are worried about personally contracting COVID-19. The quarter of the public who claim they are not worried at all about personally contracting COVID-19 disapprove of this decision by 48% to 27%.
Despite the pandemic and the silent stadiums, the public still think that the Games will be successful by 42% to 27%.
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between July 10 - 13, 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 3% for the overall sample.