Japanese Public Divided Over Hosting Future Olympic Games As Corruption, Bid-Rigging Scandals Blunt Enthusiasm

Yomiuri Shibun file photo
Olympic Rings set up to commemorate the 50the anniversary of the 1972 Winter Olympics are seen in Sapporo in November 2023.

The Japanese public is evenly split over whether this nation should host another Olympics and Paralympics, according to a recent Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

A total of 52% of survey respondents said they “want” or “somewhat want” the nation to host the sports extravaganza again, narrowly eclipsing the 46% who did not want the Games to return. Eighty-two percent said they did not think there had been sufficient review of the corruption and bid-rigging scandals that blighted the Tokyo Olympics.

In December, Sapporo announced it had halted its bidding activities to host the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. According to the survey, 69% of people thought that decision was “reasonable” and 12% said the city “should not just halt these activities but completely withdraw its bid.”

In total, 81% of respondents took a negative view of Sapporo continuing its efforts to host the Games. In a similar survey conducted in January and February 2022, before the scandals came to light, 69% of respondents said they “supported” Sapporo’s bid to host the 2030 Winter Games, while 28% opposed it. The scandals appear to have negatively impacted support for hosting the Games.

Asked what effects Japan could expect from hosting major sporting events including the Olympics and Paralympics, 47% of respondents said they “would help promote sports.” The second-most common answer, with 45%, was an “economic ripple effect,” while 35% said such events would “advance international interactions.” Multiple answers were allowed.

The most common concern cited about bidding for and hosting these events, with 72%, was “the growing cost.” This was followed by “newly built facilities won’t be well utilized after the events” at 48%. “Worsening public safety and terrorist attacks” and “social disruptions such as increased traffic congestion” were both mentioned by 40% of respondents.

The mood was more positive about the Paris Olympics scheduled to be held this summer. According to the survey, 70% of respondents said they are interested in watching Japanese athletes compete, 30% are looking forward to watching the performances of sports stars from other countries and regions, and 20% said they hoped the Games would spread peace.

The survey was conducted by mail from Feb. 6 to March 14 among 3,000 eligible voters nationwide. Responses were obtained from 2,074 people, or 69%.