Salt Lake City 2002: Importance of the cultural programm during the XIX. Olympic Winter Games ” from the spectators” perspective

The XIX. Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City 2002 seemed to be a
great success for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC). Consequently,
Research Team Olympia from the University of Mainz/Germany had favorable
conditions for an empirical investigation of the spectators at the biathlon
venue “Soldier Hollow”.

The survey investigated the interest in and image of Biathlon, the reason
of visiting the Games and Biathlon, the future of the Olympic Games and
the cultural Olympiad. The research team Olympia did a similar survey
at the Sydney Olympic Games in Sydney 2000 at the Modern Pentathlon. Here
a particular interest was given to the significance of the cultural program
at the Olympic Games.

A total number of 1 130 spectators (45% female, 49.9% male and 5.1%
no answer) at the biathlon competitions answered the questionnaire. The
researchers only used the time before and between the competitions (male
/ female competition) for doing the survey. Most of the spectators came
from the Salt Lake City area (55.1%). From outside the USA, the tourists
mostly came from Germany (3.5%), Norway (2.7%), Canada (1.6%) and Sweden
(1.4%). Sixteen nations were represented in the survey.

More than a fifth (21.3%) of the questioned were regular spectators
of Olympic Games, so there has been a high number of “experts”
being part of the investigation. A high number of well-educated persons,
54% were college graduates, took part as well.

Many of them were open minded for artistic forms they passed while walking
around the Olympic venues. So more than 28% were able to describe which
works of art struck their interest. Only 12.6% said that visiting cultural
events was unimportant.

cultural events
_ N= %
Very important 198 17.5
Important 393 34.8
Less important 308 27.3
Unimportant 142 12.6
n.a. 89 7.9

In total, 44.9% of the biathlon spectators did attend a cultural event.
Most of them saw at least one further event. This is in fact a much higher
attendance of the “Cultural Olympiad” than in Sydney 2000

Categories of visited
cultural events


Opera/ballet 26 2.3
Museum/exhibition/visual arts 208 18.4
Theatre 47 4.2
Music/concert 296 26.2
Dance (modern dance) 64 5.7
Events 252 22.3

Some very interesting responses resulted from the relationship between
the cultural program and the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. An impressive
high amount did see coherence between sport and arts. A large percentage
of spectators (83.5%) agreed with the statement “The Olympic ideal
combines sport and art.” Just 6% denied a relationship.

between cultural program and the Olympic Games



The Olympic ideal combines sport
and art

944 83.5
Every Olympic athlete ought to know
about Olympic history and Olympic ideals
927 82
It brightens up the host city 564 49.9
Cultural events and exhibits traditionally
belong to the Olympic Games
278 24.6
There is no relationship at all 68 6

The researchers also asked about the sources information about the cultural
program that was promoted: Before the Olympic Games

  • In Salt Lake City

The chart of examples below shows that mass media provided information
well, but the publicity of travel agencies and even at the local tourist
sites (posters e.g.) could have been more effective.

Sources of information
and promotional material about the cultural program (before the
Olympic Games)
_ N= %
Magazines and newspapers 472 41.8
Television and radio reports 498 44.1
Travel agency 24 2.1
No information at all 151 13.4
Sources of information
and promotional material about the cultural program (in Salt Lake
_ N= %
Newspapers 463 41
Program guide 394 34.9
Poster and placard (e.g. in hotel) 138 12.2
Travel guide 112 9.9
No information at all 167 14.8

The empirical investigation shows a high growing interest of Olympic
spectators and tourists in the Olympic Arts Festival. In comparison to
Olympic Games in the past the frequency of persons who did agree to the
statement: “The Olympic idea combines sport and art” have

– Barcelona 1992: 39.9%

– Atlanta 1996: 23.1%

– Sydney 2000: 72.1%

– Salt Lake City 2002: 83.5%

However, the spectators asked were very different groups due to the
fact that mainly national spectators attend the Games.

The empirical results show that the spectators are aware that the Olympic
Idea combines sport and art. However, only half of the spectators rate
the cultural Olympiad in Salt Lake City as very important or important
and 44% of the biathlon spectators visited cultural events. This research
is part of a long term research project on cultural Olympiads that started
in Barcelona 1992. Various publications were made by the Research Team
Olympia (

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