Doping a Problem but Olympic Success Remains a Driver of National Pride: Global Poll


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A new BBC World Service poll suggests a majority say doping scandals reduce their interest in the Olympics. Overall pride in how well their country performs in the Games has softened since before the London Games.
The poll, conducted by GlobeScan among more than 19,000 people in 19 countries between December 2015 and April 2016 asked the public to what extent their attention to the Olympic Games is negatively affected due to the use of performance-enhancing drugs by some athletes.
On average, across the 19 countries surveyed, a majority of 57 per cent say that the use of doping has “a lot” or “some” negative effect on their level of attention to the Games. Majorities of those polled in 13 of the 19 countries say they feel this way, with citizens of South Korea (78%), Peru (74%), Australia (70%), and France (69%) most negatively affected by doping. Conversely, Germans (35%) and Brazilians (36%) are least affected.
Asked how much their country’s performance in the Olympic Games affects the pride they feel in being a citizen of their country, an average of 62 per cent of citizens say that their country’s performance has “a lot” or “some” impact on their national pride. Across 16 countries polled by the BBC on this question in both 2011 and 2016, the overall proportion has decreased slightly (61% today vs. 63% in 2011), and the percentage saying “a lot” has fallen seven points (from 37% to 30%) suggesting a softening from the level prior to the London Olympics.
Though majorities in 15 out of the 19 countries surveyed link their sense of national pride, at least to some extent, with their country’s performance during the Olympic Games, views between countries differ widely. The impact of Olympic success in driving national pride is strongest in emerging economies, especially Indonesia (78%), Kenya (76%), Russia (74%), Peru (72%), and India (71%). It is weakest in Brazil (42%), Germany (48%), the US (48%), and France (50%).
GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller commented: “The poll suggests that the Olympic Games continue to positively stimulate national pride, especially among citizens in emerging economies. However, the poll results also underscore the important role the World Anti-Doping Agency plays in protecting the Olympic franchise.”

Detailed Findings

Despite the prospect of hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio this August, a decreasing number of Brazilians say the way their athletes perform during the Games has an effect on their national pride. Only 42 per cent express this opinion (6 points below the percentage recorded a few months before the London Olympics), and they are now largely outnumbered by those who say Olympic performance matters only “a little” or “not at all” to the pride they feel in being Brazilian (58%).
The picture in Brazil contrasts with the situation in other developing and middle-income countries where, like in the 2011 poll, the feeling of national pride among citizens continues to get excited from achievements at the Olympics, even if to a lesser degree in some countries. Although they show the most vibrant reactions, the sense of pride among Indonesians and Kenyans has softened (78%, down 5 points from 2011 in Indonesia; 76%, down 15 points in Kenya). It has also decreased in Nigeria (56%, down 5 points) and in Ghana (51%, down 13 points). However, the impact of Olympic success in driving national pride has strengthened in Russia (74%, up 14 points) and India (71%, up 5 points), and is stable in Peru (72%) and Pakistan (65%).
In the more industrialised economies, the impact is more limited. Except in Spain (68% feeling proud, up 9 points) and Canada (62%), opinions in France, Germany, and the US are divided, with roughly as many saying that Olympic performance does affect their national pride as those saying it matters “just a little” or “not at all.” In the UK, despite a record medal sweep at home in 2012, a narrow majority (53%) say the way British athletes perform impact their sense of pride of being Britons, a proportion fairly stable with 2011 (50%).
Looking at the impact of doping on people’s engagement with the Olympic Games, Brazil and Germany stand quite at odds with the dominant mood, as the only two countries with majorities saying that the use of doping affects “just a little” or “not at all” the way they bond with the Olympics (62% and 60%, respectively).
Russian opinion is interesting (and relevant to the current doping controversy that could see several of the Russian athletes barred from competing in the Rio Olympics). Russians are among the most engaged and likely to consider Olympic performance as a catalyst for national pride (and seemingly increasingly so in the aftermath of the Sochi Games in 2014). But Russians are split on the question of doping: 49 per cent (third highest proportion) lean the same way as the majority does in Brazil and Germany, but an equal proportion (49%) report that the use of drugs by some athletes negatively affects their attention to the Olympics.
The results are drawn from a telephone and in-person survey of 19,116 adult citizens across 19 participating countries in total. The poll was conducted for the BBC World Service between December 2, 2015 and April 15, 2016 by the international opinion research and consultancy firm GlobeScan and its national research partners. Within-country results are considered accurate within +/- 2.8 to 3.5 per cent 19 times out of 20. Urban-only samples were used in Brazil, China, Indonesia and Kenya.

Participating Countries

Detailed Findings



Media Contacts

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About BBC World Service

BBC World Service is an international multimedia broadcaster, delivering a wide range of language and regional services on radio, TV, online and via wireless handheld devices. It uses multiple platforms to reach its weekly audience of 166 million globally, including shortwave, AM, FM, digital satellite and cable channels. Its news sites include audio and video content and offer opportunities to join the global debate. BBC World Service offers its multilingual radio content to partner FM stations around the world and has numerous partnerships supplying content to news websites, mobile phones and other wireless handheld devices as well as TV channels. For more information, visit


In total 19,116 citizens in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, South Korea, Spain, the UK, and the United States were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between December 2, 2015 and April 15, 2016. Polling was conducted by GlobeScan and its research partners in each country.
In Brazil, China, Indonesia and Kenya urban samples were used. The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 2.8 to 3.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Sample Size (unweighted)
Field dates
Sample frame
Survey methodology
Type of sample
Australia 802 February 29 – March 21, 2016 18+ Telephone National
Brazil 804 January 25 – February 12 2016 18-69 Face to Face Urban1
Canada 1020 March 7–24, 2016 18+ Telephone National
Chile 1200 December 2, 2015 – January 5, 2016 18+ Face-to-face National
China 1055 April 2–15, 2016 18+ Telephone Urban2
France 1055 February 22 – March 3, 2016 18+ Telephone National
Germany 1001 February 4–18, 2016 16-70 Telephone National
Ghana 1053 March 16 – April 12, 2016 18-65 Face-to-face National
India 1269 March 15–30, 2016 18+ Face-to-face National
Indonesia 1000 March 12–26, 2016 18+ Face-to-face Urban3
Kenya 1010 March 4–20, 2016 18+ Face-to-face Urban4
Nigeria 800 March 9–24, 2016 18+ Face-to-face National
Pakistan 1000 February 19 – March 5, 2016 18+ Face-to-face National
Peru 1205 March 14–27, 2016 18-70 Face-to-face National
Russia 1020 March 9–21, 2016 18+ Face-to-face National
South Korea 1000 March 20–24, 2016 19+ Telephone National
Spain 815 February 29 – March 29, 2016 18+ Telephone National
United Kingdom 1005 February 22 – March 13, 2016 18+ Telephone National
USA 1006 February 29 – March 13, 2016 18+ Telephone National
  1. In Brazil the survey was conducted in Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Curitiba, Goiânia, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, São Paulo, representing 23 per cent of the national adult population.
  2. In China the survey was conducted in Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Harbin, Hefei, Kunming, Nanning, Shanghai, Shenyang, Taiyuan, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xi’an, Xining, and Zhengzhou, representing 14 per cent of the national adult population.
  3. In Indonesia the survey was conducted in Bandung, Jakarta, Makassar, Medan, and Surabaya, representing 27 per cent of the national adult population.
  4. In Kenya, the survey was conducted in seven out of the eight former administrative provinces targeting the 45 per cent of the adult population in urban and mixed settlements. The survey sample included urban populations in 30 counties representing 64 per cent of all counties. The counties included in the sample were: Bungoma, Busia, Embu, Kajiado, Kakamega, Kericho, Kiambu, Kilifi, Kirinyaga, Kisii, Kisumu, Kitui, Kwale, Laikipia, Machakos, Marsabit, Meru, Migori, Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru, Narok, Nyamira, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Siaya, Trans Nzoia, Turkana, Uasin Gishu, and Vihiga.

Research Partners

Country Research Institute Location Contact
Australia GlobeScan Toronto Robin Miller
+1 647 528 2767
Brazil Market Analysis Florianópolis Fabián Echegaray
+55 48 3364 0000
Canada GlobeScan Toronto Robin Miller
+1 647 528 2767
Chile Mori Chile Santiago Marta Lagos
+56 2334 4544
China GlobeScan Toronto Robin Miller
+1 647 528 2767
France Efficience 3 Paris and Rheims Thierry Laurain
+33 1 4316 5442
Germany Ri*QUESTA GmbH Teningen Bernhard Rieder
+49 7641 93 43 36
Ghana Business Interactive Consulting Limited Accra Razaaque Animashaun
+233 302 783140 / +233 302 782892
India Team C Voter Noida Yashwant Deshmukh
+91 120 424 7135
Indonesia DEKA Marketing Research Jakarta Ratna Mulia Darmawan
+62 21 723 6901
Kenya Research Path Associates Ltd. Nairobi Charles Onsongo
+254 20 2734770
Nigeria Market Trends Lagos Jo Ebhomenye
+234 1734 7384
Pakistan Gallup Pakistan Islamabad Ijaz Shafi Gilani
+92 51 2655630
Peru Datum Lima Urpi Torrado
+511 215 0600
Russia CESSI Institute for Comparative Social Research Moscow Vladimir Andreenkov
+7 495 650 55 18
South Korea East Asia Institute Seoul Wonchil Chung
+82 2 2277 1683
Spain Sigma Dos Int. Madrid Petrana Valentinova
+34 91 360 0474
United Kingdom Populus Data Solutions London Patrick Diamond
+44 207 553 4148
USA GlobeScan Toronto Robin Miller
+1 647 528 2767

Question Wording

M5t. How much does the way your country performs in the Olympic Games affect the pride you feel in being a citizen of [Country]? READ. CODE ONE.

01 – A lot
02 – Some
03 – Just a little
04 – Not at all
99 – Don’t know / no answer

M6. To what extent does your attention to the Olympic Games get negatively affected due to the use of performance-enhancing drugs by some athletes? READ. CODE ONE ONLY.

01 – A lot
02 – Some
03 – Just a little
04 – Not at all
99 – Don’t know / no answer