Religion and Social Trends

Swimming, Track, Gymnastics Will Dominate Fan Interest at Olympics

Americans worried about possible terrorist attack in Athens

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Years of preparation and hard work, sprinting to beat the clock, and striving for success come to a head in Athens, Greece, today. And that's just for the construction workers hoping to have all their work done in time.

The 28th Summer Olympics open today in Athens under a cloud of scrutiny in which no one will go unnoticed. The athletes will be watched for signs of performance-enhancing drugs, the Greek hosts will be scrutinized for incompetence, and everyone will be observed for possible terrorist activity. A new Gallup Poll conducted Aug. 9-11 finds that half of Americans believe a terrorist attack is likely to occur during the Olympics. This is despite a record $1.5 billion in spending on security measures and the deployment of more than 70,000 Greek and NATO security forces -- an estimated four guards for every athlete competing in the games. The terrorist fear is underscored by Greece's vulnerable position along the Mediterranean Sea, and by the knowledge that al Qaeda had planned attacks for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, but never carried them out.

However, while half of Americans believe a terrorist attack is likely during the Games, this is not out of line with sentiments expressed before past Olympics held in the United States.

Most Americans Will Be Watching Olympics

NBC and its affiliated networks plan the most extensive coverage of an Olympics yet, with more than 1,200 hours of coverage across broadcast and cable networks, including the first Spanish-language broadcasts of Olympic coverage in the United States. The Aug. 9-11 poll finds nearly 6 out of 10 Americans (59%) plan to watch at least a "fair amount" of the broadcast coverage, with 14% projecting that they will watch a "great deal" of it.

Track and field events date back to the earliest days of the Olympics in Greece, and have historically been among the most popular Summer Olympic sports, along with swimming and gymnastics. The three sports top this year's list of favorite Olympic events again, with 21% of Americans citing track and swimming, and 17% citing gymnastics, as their favorites. This is a change from 2000, when track held small, four-and five-point edges over swimming and gymnastics, respectively. There has been a slight increase in the percentage citing swimming as their favorite event; one possible reason for this is interest in American swimmer Michael Phelps' attempt to tie or eclipse Mark Spitz's 1972 record of seven gold medals at one Olympiad.

Gymnastics and swimming rank first among women, with 25% saying it is their favorite Summer Olympic event. Track ranks a distant third with women, at 10%. Among men, track leads the list at 25%, followed by swimming at 17% and gymnastics at 9%.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,017 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Aug. 9-11, 2004. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

44. How much of the Olympics do you intend to watch -- a great deal, a fair amount, not much, or none at all?

            BASED ON -- 499 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

 

Great
deal

Fair
amount

Not
much

None
at all

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

 

2004 Aug 9-11

14%

45

29

12

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

2000 Sep 11-13

17%

42

28

12

1

         Trend for Comparison: Winter Olympics

 

Great
deal

Fair
amount

Not
much

None
at all

No
opinion

2002 Feb 4-6

20%

38

32

10

*

* Less than 0.5%

45. What is your favorite Summer Olympic event? [Open-ended]


           BASED ON -- 499 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

 

2004 Aug 9-11

2000 Sep 11-13

 

%

%

Net Track and Field

21

22

Track and Field (non-specific)

(18)

(19)

Decathlon

(1)

(1)

Pole vault

(1)

(1)

Marathon

(1)

(*)

100-meter run

(*)

(1)

Other track

(*)

(*)

Swimming

21

18

Gymnastics

17

17

Diving

4

5

Basketball

3

5

Soccer

2

3

Skating

1

2

Baseball

1

2

Boxing

1

1

Triathlon

1

*

Skiing

1

*

Volleyball

1

*

Shooting events

1

1

Cycling

*

1

Equestrian

*

1

Tennis

*

1

Golf

--

1

 

 

 

Other

2

2

Any/All

2

1

None

13

10

No opinion

8

7

* Less than 0.5%

46. How likely do you think it is that a terrorist attack of some sort will occur at the Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece this month -- very likely, somewhat likely, somewhat unlikely, or very unlikely?

            BASED ON -- 499 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

 

Very
likely

Somewhat likely

Somewhat unlikely

Very
unlikely

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

 

2004 Aug 9-11

6%

44

33

16

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

2002 Feb 4-6 ^†

11%

37

32

18

2

1996 Jul 20-21 ‡

13%

38

28

18

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

^ Asked of a half sample.

† WORDING: How likely do you think it is that a terrorist attack of some sort will occur at the Winter Olympics taking place in Salt Lake City -- very likely, somewhat likely, somewhat unlikely, or very unlikely

‡ WORDING: How likely do you think it is that a terrorist attack of some sort will occur at the Olympics currently taking place in Atlanta -- very likely, somewhat likely, somewhat unlikely, or very unlikely?

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/12697/Swimming-Track-Gymnastics-Will-Dominate-Fan-Interest-Olympics.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030