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London 2012: Less Than Half of UK is “excited” About Olympics

By Periscope @periscopepost
London 2012: Less than half of UK is “excited” about Olympics

The London 2012 logo. Photo credit: Ben Sutherland, http://flic.kr/p/9wtYrg

Less than half of the UK population is excited about the London 2012 Olympics, according to a Times/Populus poll. The news follows the Olympic tickets debacle that saw millions of applicants miss out – including London Mayor Boris Johnson – leading to accusations of unfairness. The Times survey found that resentment over the ticketing allocation lingers on: fewer than one in five respondents felt that it was a fair system. With just over a year to go until the opening ceremony, why is enthusiasm so low? And how can the Games organisers carry out the Olympian (sorry) task of winning back the public?

During the London 2012 ticketing process, there were 20 million applications for 6.6 million tickets.

  • A regional problem. According to the poll, Scots are the most likely to be “hostile” to London 2012. Scottish Sports Minister Shona Robison recently told the BBC that lottery funding and “inequity around tax issues” mean Scotland may struggle to gain financially from the Olympics. What’s more, Glasgow will be holding the Commonwealth Games in 2014, and Robison pointed out that the Treasury only allows tax exemption for athletes competing in the Olympics, which may create “an inequity of attraction for athletes from one event to another”. Scotland is not the only region to feel marginalised: Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones expressed disappointment to the BBC that Wales will only be hosting football matches. Jones also highlighted the fact that Welsh businesses have won just a small proportion of Olympic contracts. Writing in The Telegraph, five-times gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave sympathised: “In an ideal world I would have liked to have seen more events spread around the country, so that regional areas would have a taste of the Olympics too.”

“A sporting Disneyland.” The Guardian.

  • Money woes. The poll found that only one of four respondents would defend the use of public money to fund the Olympics. Paul Hayward set out the problem in The Guardian: “The country finds itself constructing a sporting Disneyland at the time of draconian cuts to public spending. Many of us would rather have the Games of 1948 again with people cutting up old bed-sheets to make running shorts if it meant improvements to the NHS, schools and public services, but the universe we now inhabit is one of sob-inducingly high ticket prices and £400,000 Olympic logo design costs.” Hayward suggested that the key way for the London 2012 organising committee to justify their spending would be to ensure long-term benefits: “London will have to be a much better city when it ends on 12 August for those who live and work there, and opportunities in sport will need to be more widely spread, beyond privilege and money,” he wrote.

“There has to be a fatuous political message thrown in.” The Daily Mail.

  • Culture vulture. Talking of spending, it might be best if the Olympic organisers didn’t play up the Cultural Olympiad that will be taking place alongside the Games – or at least, not in front of The Daily Mail‘s Ross Clark.  A compulsory element of the Games, the Olympiad will see a series of cultural events throughout the country – some of which, according to Clark, will be paid for by the “taxpayer-funded” Arts Council. “London 2012 will take the cultural side of the Games to new levels of daftness. You don’t get to be part of the Cultural Olympiad just by painting, singing or dancing; there has to be a fatuous political message thrown in,” he fumed.
  • Doing it for the kids. The London 2012 organisers have announced the opening of the Young Games Makers scheme. Unlike last year’s adults-only Games Makers programme, this will allow 16- to 18-year-olds to carry athletes’ kit and retrieve water polo balls – or “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for young people to get involved in the greatest show on earth,” as the London 2012 website has it.
  • Reasons to be cheerful. The BBC is predicting high levels of Olympic support: according to The Telegraph, the head of Olympic coverage said he expects 75-80% of the UK population to tune into the Games. Given that many of us don’t have tickets, that sounds about right.

More on sport

  • Olympic tickets fiasco
  • Women’s football scores big
  • London Olympics torch design revealed
  • Vancouver riots after hockey loss
  • Blatter: What FIFA crisis?

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