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Most Canadians less interested in Olympic hockey without NHL players

The Olympic hockey tournament has been home to some of the most iconic moments in Canadian sports history. Whether it’s the lore of the Lucky Loonie and a 50-year drought-ending win from Salt Lake City in 2002, or Sidney Crosby’s Golden Goal from Vancouver in 2010, Canadians have enjoyed some great history over the two decades since the International Olympic Committee voted to allow professional athletes to compete in the games in 1998.

This year, for the first time since that decision, there will be no NHL players participating. A new Angus Reid Institute study finds most Canadians saying the competition has lost much of it’s lustre as a result of this change. Further, one-in-five hockey viewers say they’re not going to watch at all this time around.

The news isn’t all bad for Olympic broadcast partners. Four-in-ten (40%) hockey viewers say they’re just as enthusiastic for an amateur-only tournament, and interest levels for the Winter Games overall have ticked up slightly. Overall, 58 per cent of Canadians say they’ll be following the games this month.

More Key Findings:

One-third (36 per cent) of Canadians say they were not going to watch the Olympic hockey tournament at all. Among those who were or are going to tune in, 40 per cent say the lack of NHL players will not change the way they watch the tournament, while 43 per cent say they’re still going to tune in, but they won’t care as much.

Quebecers lead the way in interest for the Olympic Games overall. 62 per cent within that province say they will be tuning in while Albertans and Atlantic Canadians are least likely to say they’ll be watching – half say they will and half say they won’t.

While Quebec residents are the most likely to say they’re engaged in the games, they’re also the least likely to say hosting the Olympics is a worthwhile investment – probably reflecting the three decades worth of tax dollars spent paying off Olympic debt from the 1976 games in Montreal.

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