London 2012: Interest rises to 51%

July 25, 2012, 3:38 PM GMT+0

Enthusiasm for Olympics up from 44% interested in March to 51% in new poll days before Opening Ceremony

With just days to go until the London Olympics begin, our polls show that the percentage of the British public saying they're interested in the events has grown to over half, up from a figure of only two in five earlier in the year.

Interest in the Paralympics has also gained momentum with a poll from March showing only a third were interested, compared to two in five who say they are now.

  • 51% are interested in this summer's London Olympics compared to 44% who expressed an interest in March
  • Currently 46% are not interested in the Olympic Games this summer, putting the 'not interested' number below the majority that existed in March (53%)
  • At 41%, interest in the London Paralympics this summer has grown from our previous poll which showed only 34% interest
  • Though still failing to interest the majority of our respondents, what was once 62% saying they weren’t interested in the Paralympics is now down to 56%

Reports detailing a growing enthusiasm for the Olympics are featuring more frequently after the event has received a significant amount of negative press in the run up to the opening ceremony. Many issues have been highlighted in the past few weeks, including security issues, strikes and expected transport woes already beginning to surface.

It has to be said, however, that a lack of overwhelming interest towards a 'national event' just days beforehand doesn't automatically mean a lukewarm reception. In the week before last year's Royal Wedding, our poll found just 43% of Britons were interested ‒ and yet the wedding, watched by a two-billion strong global audience, was widely lauded as a success.

Enthusiasm lies with sponsors

Lack of enthusiasm could be attributed to Britons' traditional 'stiff-upper-lip' approach. “Britons appear to be acknowledging the forthcoming games with little more than an offhand shrug," writes the infamously pessimistic Guardian journalist Charlie Brooker.

While Brooker expects keenness will grow with success of our athletes, he maintains that: “until then we're being very British about the whole thing by largely ignoring it, aside from the odd quiet moan about the negative effect it'll have on the traffic.”

Public mood ‘perceivably changing’?

But the thousands turning up to cheer on the Olympic torch relay ‒ which will finish on Friday ‒ have spurred organisers to hit back at cynics, saying criticism over planning mistakes and costs are being outweighed by a surge in public excitement as the Opening Ceremony nears.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has told the BBC that the mood of the public was “perceptibly changing” with people expressing excitement about the arrival of the torch. "I think possibly what we're going through as a nation… is that necessary, pre-curtain-up moment of psychological self-depression before the excitement begins," he said.

This article is part of a series in the run up to the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony highlighting YouGov's research on what Britain thinks about London 2012

See the survey details and full results here

See the full Press Release on our most recent Olympics research here