In a time when it seems that Olympic ideals might have been bought and sold, a new study suggests that the Olympic spirit remains alive and well with the American public, and consumers are no less willing to support sponsors which support the Games.
The controversy that is raging in Salt Lake City has left 40% of those responding to a nationwide poll believing that, "Their overall impression of the Olympics has been damaged", according to a study by Performance Research of Newport, RI. Moreover, 57% agreed that "The Olympics have become all about big business and money", and 62% feel that, "The Olympics are becoming just like big professional sports, filled with strikes and controversy".
But is the damage all that severe? Only a minority (26%) indicated that they, "Have lost trust in the Olympics and what they stand for", and 61% believe that, "The problem has been handled appropriately up to now."
Despite the growing scandal, the majority seem to separate the Olympics (as a sport) from the business side of the Games. This is generally good news for corporate sponsors, which draw upon the image and aura of the Olympics to market themselves as leaders in their fields. Respondents were split on the issue, "My overall impression of Olympic sponsors has been damaged or lessened by the scandal" (31% agreed/ 51% disagreed/ 18% no opinion), but only one-in-five (22%) indicated that they were, "Less likely to support Olympic sponsors because of the controversy". A majority (57%) believe that the current level of commercialism is "Acceptable", and nearly all (85%) indicated that they "Welcome corporate sponsorship if it keeps the Olympics going". The best news for sponsors: Nearly one-third (30%) indicated that, "A company?s involvement with the Olympics has a positive impact on my everyday purchasing decisions"-- a figure which is almost identical to "pre-scandal days", as compared to data previously collected by Performance Research following the Lillehammer, Atlanta, and Nagano Games.
Just 17% of those surveyed placed blame for the controversy on corporate sponsors, and surprisingly, only 23% believe that the Salt Lake Organizing Committee is most at fault.
So who is the anger directed at? The majority (59%) believe that the IOC is at the center of blame, and almost half (49%) believe that His Excellency, Juan Antonio Samaranch, should resign amid the allegations.
Performance Research tested the awareness and attitudes towards the Olympics and the Salt Lake City scandal among 200 respondents by telephone interview in a nationwide sample during the first week of February 1999. The margin of error is + 5%.
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