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Gallup Vault
Gallup Vault: Seeing Past Olympic Boycotts and Commercialism
Gallup Vault

Gallup Vault: Seeing Past Olympic Boycotts and Commercialism

Four years after the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, and just days after the Soviet Union announced that its athletes would skip the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Americans were relatively upbeat about the games' effect on global relations. By 51% to 33%, more Americans in May 1984 believed the Olympics reduce rather than increase international tension.

Overall, do you think the Olympics serve to reduce or increase international tension?
U.S. adults
Reduce 51
Increase 33
Neither 10
No opinion 6
Gallup/Newsweek, May 9-10, 1984

In the same Gallup/Newsweek poll, most Americans said they viewed the Olympics as competition between nations (62%) rather than between individual athletes (33%). Nevertheless, they evidently saw it as healthy competition that did more to connect than divide the world.

The head of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Committee was California businessman -- and, for his Olympic efforts, 1984 Time "Man of the Year" -- Peter Ueberroth. Ueberroth led a revolution in corporate sponsorship of the Olympics, paying for the Los Angeles Games entirely with corporate and private funds -- no tax dollars -- and earning the committee a profit in excess of $200 million. Companies like IBM, McDonald's, Anheuser-Busch and Coca-Cola paid millions for the "official sponsor" moniker as well as the use of the Olympic logo on their products and promotions.

Americans' reaction to corporate sponsorship of the Los Angeles Games was largely positive. Only 33% thought the Olympics had become too commercial by having companies "paying to have their brand names promoted at the games." Sixty-three percent thought commercial participation was a necessary way to help pay for them.

These data can be found in Gallup Analytics.

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