53% of Canadians would not send diplomats to the 2022 Olympics; two in five would keep athletes at home


Three-quarters (73%) of Canadians believe that nothing Canada does can change China’s behavior

December 7, 2021 – Since the 1980 Games in Moscow, Canada has not refused to send athletes – or officials – to the Olympics.

But as the United States announces a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Games next February, other Western countries are being questioned about their intentions.

As the Canadian government considers who – if any – it will send to the Olympics, a new study by the nonprofit Angus Reid Institute finds that just over half of Canadians (53%) say their country takes the same measure as the United States, denying any diplomatic presence in Beijing.

Two in five would go further, withholding athletes from China in protest against human rights violations in the host country.

Overall, four in five (78%) support some kind of boycott. Despite this sentiment, the vast majority are resigned to the fact that the Canadian protest will have little impact on China’s domestic politics. Almost three-quarters (73%) say it is “unrealistic” to expect the measures taken by that country to change China’s behavior.

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More key findings:

  • Favor towards China has grown since Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were released from prison and returned to Canada, but this is the minority view. One in six Canadians (16%) say they have a favorable opinion of the country.
  • Half (48%) of Canadians who view China positively say there should be no boycott of the Games; one in five (17%) who have a negative opinion of the country say the same.
  • Men aged 18-34 are the most supportive of officials and stay-at-home supporters, two-thirds (63%) and half (47%), respectively.

About ARI

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation created to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating statistical data, research and policy analysis to the public. accessible and impartial on economics, political science, philanthropy, administration, national and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.


Part 1: China’s favorability is improving, still close to historic lows

Part two: the 2022 Olympic Games

Part Three: Would a Boycott Work?

Part 1: China’s favorability is improving, still close to historic lows

Canada’s relations with China have become more complicated of late. As trade with China increased, diplomatic relations were strained. China banned beef and pork exports from Canada for months in 2019 and imposed restrictions and bans on canola exports for nearly two years. Most notably, at the request of the United States, Canadian authorities arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018. In response, China arrested two Canadians and tried them for espionage.

Favorable views on China in Canada have fallen sharply since 2017, reaching an all-time low in October following the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor almost three years after their arrests. While more Canadians have a favorable opinion of the country than two months ago, the vast majority continue to view the country negatively: one in six (16%) now view the Chinese regime favorably :

Related: Canadians say US deserves as much credit as Canada for releasing Two Michaels Is

Those in Saskatchewan hold the most negative opinions of the country; two in five (41%) say they have a very negative opinion of China. Favorability peaks in Manitoba (21%) and Atlantic Canada (21%), where one in five respondents say they have a favorable opinion of the country:

A majority of all demographic groups have a negative opinion of China, but three in ten (29%) women aged 18 to 34 have a positive opinion of the country, most of all age groups and sex. Men of this age, however, view the country much more negatively; two in five (43%) say they have a very unfavorable opinion of China (see detailed tables).

Majority opinion across the political spectrum is negative. However, it should be noted that one in five people who voted for the NDP in the September federal election say they have a positive opinion of China, which represents the most favorable opinion politically. In contrast, former Conservative voters are the least likely to say this:

Part two: the 2022 Olympic Games

Although the International Olympic Committee wants the biennial Games to remain free of all politics – it banned political gestures during the Olympic Games last summer in Tokyo – politics and the Olympics have often gone hand in hand.

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists to protest racial inequalities when they collected their medals on the podium. The United States boycotted the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics in 66 countries after the Soviet Union refused to end the Soviet-Afghan war. The Soviet Union later responded by boycotting the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

That story continued this week as the United States announced it would undertake a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which are scheduled to begin on February 4, 2022.

Citing “the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” the White House announced that it would not send an official US delegation to the Games. American athletes will still be allowed to participate in both Games, but they will not be accompanied by any government official or diplomat. This represents an escalation of pressure from the Biden administration in response to allegations of forced labor and human rights violations against ethnic and religious minorities, including the Uyghur population of the western Xinjiang region.

While a boycott does not allow the Games to be withdrawn from China and moved to another location – something lawmakers in the Netherlands, Canada and the United States are advocating – some still call for the boycott’s scope to be enlarged. In the United States, Republican Senator Mitt Romney proposed an economic and diplomatic boycott, urging spectators not to attend in person in order to downplay the tourist income the Chinese could earn.

In Canada, politicians passed a motion in early 2021 affirming recognition that there was genocide perpetrated by the Chinese government against Uyghurs. On the question of a boycott, both the Conservative Party and the NDP have raised the possibility of a diplomatic boycott. We do not yet know what the Liberal government is planning, a spokesperson for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, affirming that discussions were underway with the United States.

As for Canadians, half (53%) say they are in favor of a diplomatic boycott. Two in five support a boycott of Canadian fans (37%) and Team Canada athletes (40%). One in five people (22%) do not support any form of boycott.

Among the minority of Canadians who say they have a favorable opinion of China, there is less appetite for a boycott with half (48%) of respondents saying they do not support any form of boycott. Despite their favorable views, there are still significant minorities who support boycotts: a third (32%) say they support a diplomatic boycott, a quarter (24%) a fan boycott and one in five (20%) a boycott of the fans. athletes:

A majority across partisan lines supports a diplomatic boycott. When it comes to a boycott by Canadian athletes, half of CPC supporters (46%) say they are in favor of keeping Team Canada at home – a number that drops to three in ten (28% ) among the voters of the Bloc Québécois:

Three in five men (63%) and women (58%) aged 18 to 34 support Canada, following the lead of the United States with a diplomatic boycott. Young women, however, are the least likely to support the ban on athletes attending the Games:

Part Three: Would a Boycott Work?

There are those who remain skeptical about the effectiveness of a boycott. Dick Pound, a current member of the Canadian International Olympic Committee, recently said it is unlikely to make a difference. It seems that many Canadians agree. When asked if it is unrealistic that anything Canada does could change China’s behavior, three-quarters (73%) of Canadians agree.

Support for all forms of boycott is significantly higher among the 22 percent of Canadians who disagree. Canada’s protest would be inconsequential, including three in five (61%) who support a diplomatic boycott.

Survey methodology:

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from November 26 to 29, 2021 with a representative random sample of 2,005 Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum members. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would have a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was sponsored and paid for by ARI.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education level and other demographics, Click here.

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here.

To read the questionnaire, click here.


Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693 [email protected] @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, research director: 250.899.0821 [email protected]

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