Canadians sour on Olympic benefits: poll
Survey finds growing cynicism about economic impact of 2010 Games
Canadians are more aware of next year's Vancouver Winter Olympics, but also more skeptical of the possible economic benefits.
According to a February 2009 Decima Research study, carried out for the federal Heritage Department, 82 per cent of 2,036 people polled correctly identified Vancouver or Whistler, B.C., as host of the 2010 Games.
Four per cent picked B.C. and one per cent selected Canada in general.
In 2007, the overall awareness of the Games' location hovered at only 61 per cent.
Quebecers still had the lowest awareness in the country, with 76 per cent of those polled knowing where the Games are being held, compared with 43 per cent in 2007.
In the most recent survey, 11 per cent of Canadians questioned didn't know where the Games were being held, which was down 34 per cent from the government's last survey.
"As we've gotten closer, just the overall volume of material in the market has increased," said Renee Smith-Valade, vice-president of communications for the 2010 Olympics organizing committee, known as VANOC.
"That would be everything from advertising by our partners, including our corporate sponsors, to the performance and profile of the Canadian team."
However, belief the Games will benefit every region in the country seems to be sliding.
In 2007, 59 per cent of Canadians polled said the Games would have a positive impact on economic opportunities, but the latest numbers suggest only 52 per cent share that view.
Sixty-four per cent of Canadians questioned this year said the Games would have a positive impact on trade and investment opportunities for Canadian companies, down from 70 per cent in 2007.
Smith-Valade attributed the decline to an overall worsening opinion about the state of the economy.
Despite the hope that the Games could help marginalized people, the report says 46 per cent of Canadians don't think the Games will have any impact on what pollsters called "individuals facing social challenges."
Fifteen per cent believe the Games will have a negative impact.
Living with the day-to-day realities of hosting an Olympics seems to have given British Columbia a slightly darker view than the rest of the country. Respondents were asked about nine different areas where the Games could have an impact, from economics to the promotion of world peace through sport. The British Columbians questioned consistently believed the Games would have a less positive impact than residents in other provinces.
Projections from 2002 suggested the Games would bring as much as $10.4 billion to British Columbia, including the economic spin-offs from a brand new convention centre. The downturn in the economy has changed those projections, and new data is expected later this year.
Already, several aspects of the Games are well over budget, including security, initially projected to cost $175 million but now forecast to require up to $1 billion of taxpayer money. As well, a financial fiasco struck the athletes village when its original funder backed out and the city of Vancouver had to step in to guarantee its completion and cover hundreds of millions of cost overruns.
Residents of Atlantic Canada also appeared less optimistic than the rest of the country about the 2010 Olympics. Eight per cent of those polled said the Games would have a negative impact on economic opportunities and 40 per cent responded that the event would have no impact at all.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.
With files from The Canadian Press