NEW YORK — Forget giving medals to human athletes. Two in five Americans think dogs deserve a shot at gold during the Winter Olympics, too.
That’s according to a recent survey of 1,000 participants, 37 percent of whom think that dog sledding should be an event at the next Winter Olympic Games. While dog sled races were previously featured as a “demonstration event” at Lake Placid, New York in 1932 and Lillehammer, Norway in 1994, it has never achieved the status of an official Olympic sport.
Other winter sports that respondents cited as potential Olympic fodder included speed skiing (42%) — which was demonstrated in 1992 — synchronized skating (43%), the only skating discipline not currently included, and ski ballet — which also appeared in the ‘92 games but now has no formal competition associated with the sport.
At the time the survey was conducted by OnePoll on Feb. 5, 79 percent had watched some part of the Winter Olympics in Beijing and 76 percent plan to continue watching future events.
Not surprisingly given the relative climate differences, respondents from the Northeast and Midwestern parts of the United States were much keener on the winter games than their Southern and Western counterparts.
Everything is worse during winter
Just as recent TV ratings also suggest, unfortunately, fewer people have an interest in the Winter Olympics compared to the Summer Olympics – which were recently held in Tokyo, Japan after a year-long delay. Only one in three people (34%) say they cared about both summer and winter sports in equal measure, but over twice as many people (68%) described the Summer Games as “interesting” compared to the Winter Games (36%).
Respondents also found the Summer Games to be more “inspiring” (53% vs. 44%), more “beautiful” (54% vs. 48%), and even slightly more “accessible” (53% vs. 51%).
While a similar poll about the Summer Games revealed that 40 percent of respondents think they could compete in a summer or winter sport, this year half the poll (50%) feel similarly capable in just winter sports.
At least there’s one silver lining: compared to last year, Americans are much less concerned about a possible spike in COVID-19 cases this time around (69% in 2021 vs. 53% in 2022).