Mendoza School of Business

Notre Dame experts reflect on aspects of the Olympics, from athletic performance to human rights violations

Published: February 9, 2022 / Author: Notre Dame News

The 2022 Winter Olympics was enveloped in a number of controversies long before the Games even started. In 2021, the U.S. accused China of committing genocide against the Uyghur ethnic group. In what some say was an intentional move on China’s part to show the world it is not guilty of the accusations, it chose a Uyghur athlete to be the final Olympic torchbearer at the opening ceremony. In December, the Biden administration announced a U.S. diplomatic boycott of Beijing 2022 as a result of China’s poor human rights record. Canada, Australia, Britain and India followed suit. Late last year, Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis star who has since announced her retirement, wrote a blog post that accused a former high-level Chinese official with whom she had once been in a relationship of pressuring her into sex. She has since said it was a “huge misunderstanding.”

These issues are in addition to the fact that the event is taking place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some athletes are speaking out about China’s strict protocols to prevent the spread of the virus and their treatment in quarantine.

Economic effects for advertisers and broadcasters


Richard Sheehan

The economic advantage for competing athletes and networks with broadcast rights for the Olympics is also “bleak,” according to Richard Sheehan, professor emeritus of finance at the Mendoza College of Business.

“Most participants have trained for years and will have only one opportunity to perform before a worldwide audience and, for a lucky few, make an impression and obtain sponsorship deals,” Sheehan said. “Those will likely be substantially reduced after this Olympic Games.”

Some companies, including Coca-Cola, decided not to run Olympics-related global ad campaigns. Western companies that have shelled out millions for licensing deals are pretty much out of luck, Sheehan noted.

“NBC is in about as bad a situation, and their promos have been few and far between,” he said. “NBC has counted on the Olympics to goose their ratings to cover the funds they’ve spent for the rights. They will end up losing a large fraction of their expenditures.”

Read more ND expert opinions in the full article here.