By Nick Butler at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne

Independent research has demonstrated the success of Sochi 2014 and the appeal of the Olympic Brand, it is claimed ©Getty ImagesIndependent research conducted across 16 countries in the aftermath of the Winter Olympic Games earlier this year has found that the appeal of the Olympic Brand remains strong, amid an endorsement for the success of Sochi 2014, it has been claimed. 

The research was based on 36,000 online interviews undertaken by sport media research unit KantarSport in the month immediately following the Closing Ceremony of Sochi 2014, with an even distribution across genders and age groups. 

Although many of the countries considered belong to the western world, including United States, Great Britain and Germany, opinions were also sought from various other spheres, including China, Indonesia and Mexico.

Russia, Brazil and South Korea, the respective host nations for the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Olympic Games, were also studied.

The most interesting findings relate to the widespread praise allocated to Sochi 2014, despite the Games taking place amid a cloud of concerns spanning ticket sales, security and concerns over restrictions on gay rights in Russia. 

Despite the many concerns expressed beforehand the survey suggests that Sochi 2014 was a success ©Getty ImagesDespite the concerns expressed beforehand the survey suggests Sochi 2014 was a success ©Getty Images

But 93 per cent of respondents answered that they had "really enjoyed" the Games, while 54 per cent believed the Games would leave a positive legacy in comparison with just 12 per cent who said it would not.

This represents a slightly lower total than for the previous Winter Games in Vancouver four years earlier, for which 57 per cent believed it would leave a positive legacy, although given the scepticism expressed about whether Sochi will achieve many of their legacy promises, it still appears a strong result.

Athletes and spectators surveyed in Sochi also rated their enjoyment of the Games very highly, primarily due to the standard of the sports competition, the quality of the venues and the atmosphere at the event. 

In a more general sense, 93 per cent of respondents were aware of the Olympic Rings, making it the most widely recognised of all the brand symbols surveyed.

Among the key responsibilities of the IOC highlighted by respondents were fighting against doping, deciding upon sports in the Olympic programme, protecting athletes' health and the selection of host cities. 

The IOC was also perceived as being strict on doping, as well as "global", "ethical", and "a leader".

The survey is a boost for an IOC locked in the grips of the Agenda 2020 reform process under new President Thomas Bach ©AFP/Getty ImagesThe survey is a boost for an IOC locked in the grips of the Agenda 2020 reform process under new President Thomas Bach ©AFP/Getty Images

The IOC claimed that the findings demonstrated the awareness and appeal of the Olympic Games and its brand, as well as further evidence of the considerable growth in the interest of the Winter Games globally.

When the widespread criticism and negative connotations surrounding other sporting organisations, notably football governing body FIFA, is considered the findings are certainly a boost for the IOC as it continues its Olympic Agenda 2020 reform process.

The success and widespread popularity of recent Games, at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, as well as in Sochi, must also have contributed. 

But it is worth noting that among the countries not consulted in the survey is Norway, where the image of the IOC appears far lower than in much of the rest of the world.

This has been shown by the groundswell of opposition against Oslo's bid for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Earlier this year, Norwegian Government representatives also illustrated this sentiment by calling for the costs of IOC members' own accommodation during the Games to be covered by the IOC itself rather than by the Organising Committee, as a reflection of a popular outcry against the supposed extravagance of the IOC's hospitality demands. 

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