- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The threat of terrorism and tales of unfinished, unhygienic hotels dominate headlines about the Winter Olympics, which are nevertheless set to generate half a trillion in advertising revenue and licensing fees. Despite the cozy commercialism, the event makes people nervous. Almost three-fourths of Americans would not venture to Sochi, even if they had the money, new research reports.

A YouGov/Economist poll finds that 73 percent of Americans say they would not want to attend the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, even if they could afford it.

But they back their fellow citizens: 69 percent say U.S. athletes should participate in the Winter Olympic Games at Sochi, though 52 percent approve the decision that President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will not attend the games. Another 47 percent approve of the U.S. decision to send gay athletes to Sochi.

The spectacular seaside site itself still makes Americans uneasy, however: 55 percent would have chosen Salzburg, Austria, for the winter games. Another 36 percent have “a little confidence” that the games will be safe from terrorism. Another 23 percent have “some” confidence, 23 percent have “no confidence” and 7 percent have “a great deal of confidence” in the security.

There are some favorite sports - figure skating is by far the favorite, with bobsled, ice hockey, ski jumping, snowboarding and speed skating all bunched in popularity, the findings report.

The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 25-27. But there is another aspect to examine. The cold games have hot revenue.

The Winter Olympic Games in Sochi have attracted a record number of advertisers with the total value of contracts with sponsors, suppliers and licensees amounting to almost half a trillion dollars. This is an all-time record not only for Winter, but also for Summer Olympic Games,” says Svetlana Kalmykova, a correspondent with The Voice of Russia, a Moscow-based broadcast group.

“Besides 10 global corporations, traditional partners of the International Olympic Committee, the organizers of the games in Sochi have managed to sign marketing contracts with eight national partners. For comparison, there were seven national sponsors at the Summer Olympics 2012 in London,” Ms. Kalmkova notes.

And in the meantime, NBC, which will carry the games for the U.S. audience, has garnered $800 million in advertising revenues to broadcast 1,000 hours of events.

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