Nearly half of Canadians will not watch Beijing Winter Olympics, survey suggests
Results also suggest 66 per cent of British Columbians surveyed are in favour of a full boycott
Nearly half of Canadians say they won't be watching the Beijing Winter Olympic games, a recent survey suggests.
According to results of an online survey by the Vancouver, B.C.-based consultancy Research Co., 47 per cent of 1,000 respondents across Canada say they will make a conscious effort to refrain from watching the sporting event — up two points from results from a similar survey conducted in December 2021.
Fifty-nine per cent of respondents say they think Canada should boycott the Games over China's human rights record.
The results also suggest that 66 per cent of British Columbians surveyed are in favour of a full boycott.
Research Co. president Mario Canseco says the surveys — which were also conducted by the consultancy in March and August last year — have consistently suggested that a fairly high percentage of Canadians are not in favour of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
He says this is partially because of China's detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor after the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in December 2018 — and that many Canadians' views of China have not changed, even after the two Michaels' release last September.
"The level of animosity towards China as the host country has not budged over the past few months," Canseco said on Daybreak Kamloops.
The survey was conducted from Jan. 21 to 23, with data statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error is 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Human rights issues in China — and Canada
Olympic gold medallist and former B.C. senator Nancy Greene Raine says despite the survey results, she doesn't believe many Canadians will stop watching the Winter Olympic Games simply because of China's human rights issues.
"There are always going to be political aspects to the games, but I think once the games get started, people [will] watch the athletes. They [will] get swept up in it," the alpine skier said on Daybreak Kamloops.
"We need something positive like the Winter Olympics right now."
Last month, Canada announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics — meaning no federal government officials will attend the event — citing China's atrocities on Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Greene Raine says Canada shouldn't boycott China on human rights issues, because the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 could also have been subject to boycott due to Canada's dark history of racism against Indigenous communities.
But she says solutions lie with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the way they select hosts for the games.
"Maybe they should have something in their values that says we won't award the games to countries that practice blatant human rights violations," she said.
She also says athletes should be allowed to freely express themselves on human rights issues, including through acts like the crescent-shaped hand gesture some advocates suggest.
"Every athlete is going to have to make their own decision," Greene Raine said. "Certainly they will get into trouble and it'll probably cost them, you never know. But you've got to ask the bigger question: Why does the IOC go along with not chastising countries for human rights abuses?"
When the IOC picked Beijing as the Winter Olympic Games site in 2015, it didn't require China to adhere to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which has become a rule for host countries of Olympic Games in 2024 and onward.
Greene Raine says if Canadians want to show they care about human rights, they should work to eliminate discrimination against First Nations.
"I always turn back to a thought that we should think globally but act locally," she said. "The biggest thing we can do as Canadians now is [to] put yourself in the shoes of Indigenous people who suffered over the years, and heal and really bring forward the process of truth and reconciliation."
With files from Daybreak Kamloops