Yomiuri survey: 70% of respondents positive about Tokyo Games 

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Olympic cauldron is lit during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics at National Stadium in Tokyo on July 23, 2021.

Seventy percent of respondents feel positively about last summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, while 29% indicated the opposite opinion, according to a recent Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

The survey showed that the unprecedented Tokyo Games, held in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, are generally perceived to have been successful.

The positivity might be the product of significant achievements of Japanese athletes, featuring a single-Olympic record medal haul for the country. The prevention of the spread of the novel coronavirus infections, which had been a concern, is also believed to have contributed to the positive reviews.

Regarding Sapporo’s bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, 69% of the respondents favored the idea, while 28% were opposed.

The city had initially aimed to host the 2026 Winter Games, but subsequently shifted its focus to the 2030 Games. In surveys conducted in 2015 and 2017, in which respondents were asked about the bid for the 2026 Games, the percentages of respondents supporting the plan registered 85% and 82%, respectively. The latest survey marked a decline in the numbers in favor of the bid.

This appears to have been related to a public view of the Tokyo Games. Among the respondents who were positive about Japan putting on the Tokyo Games, 80% were in favor of Sapporo’s bid, while 18% were against. Among those who were thumbs-down on the Tokyo Games, 44% of them supported the Sapporo bid, while 52% were opposed.

A breakdown by age group showed the percentage of respondents 18 to 39 who were in favor of the Sapporo bid was 75%, while 69% of respondents 40 to 59 backed the bid. The figure for supporters dropped to 65% among those 60 and older.

The survey found that younger people were more positive about the notion, and data also revealed there was almost no difference by region, with around 70% in favor of the plan.

The survey was conducted via the postal system from Jan. 25 to Feb. 28 on 3,000 randomly selected voters nationwide, with 2,184, or 73%, responding.

In a survey conducted in January and February last year, 58% of respondents said they did not want the Tokyo Games to be held because of the risk of the spread of infections, surpassing the 40% who said they wanted the Olympics to be held with anti-virus measures in place.

The spread of infections, which had been a major concern ahead of the Games, was prevented by holding events without spectators and taking thorough measures.

Those efforts appear to have contributed to the positive opinions about the Games.

The survey also found that 69% of the respondents “believed” or “somewhat believed” that the Tokyo Paralympics deepened the public understanding of para sports and interest in that type of competition, while 28% of them said they did not think so.

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Flag bearer Rui Hachimura leads the Japanese delegation during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics at National Stadium in Tokyo on July 23, 2021.

76% see excessive costs as problem

The survey used a multiple-choice format to pose questions to respondents about Olympic-related problems. The enormous cost required for the bidding and operation of the Games led the responses with 76%. The expenses of hosting the Tokyo Games are expected to be about ¥1.45 trillion, nearly double of the figure that was estimated when the bid was launched.

Among other issues, distrust of the International Olympic Committee was a major problem selected by 49% of respondents, and 34% cited excessive commercialism.

Public opinion has long been critical of the ballooning costs of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In a survey conducted using in-person questioning in 1999, the year after the Nagano Winter Olympics and Paralympics, 54% of those responding to a similar question were critical of astronomical monetary figures required for bidding, preparation and operation, the marking the most responses.