London 2012: Will it be a success?

July 26, 2012, 9:31 AM GMT+0

53% Brits say Games will 'be success'; 27% 'failure'; 30% say London will be better than Beijing 2008

Despite being hit by problems in recent weeks ‒ such as clashing industrial action, pessimism about public transport capacity, and G4S security failures ‒ our poll shows the majority of the British public feels the 2012 London Olympics will be a success.

One in ten however, feels that the Games will be 'a failure', and over a quarter said it would be neither.

  • 53% think the 2012 Olympics Games in London will be a success
  • 27% think the 2012 Olympics Games in London will be neither a success nor a failure
  • 10% think the Games will be a failure
  • 10% don’t know

Our most recent results on Britons' interest in the Olympics show the nation is fairly divided on the topic, with just over half (51%) saying they are interested in the Olympics taking place, while just under half (46%) say they are not interested. Meanwhile, the Paralympics have garnered even less interest with 41% interested and 56% not.

However, such lukewarm lack of interest towards a 'national event' does not necessarily indicate a collective 'failure' – our poll found that interest in another recent 'national' occasion, the 2011 Royal Wedding, was only at 43% just days beforehand; yet the nuptials were widely hailed as a success and viewed by billions around the world.

When surveyed, a majority of respondents (56%) said that they were either not very interested (30%) or not at all interested (26%) in the wedding.

How will London 2012 compare to previous Games?

With the Opening Ceremony taking place this Friday, all eyes will be on London as it seeks to put on a show in honour of the forthcoming events and athletes taking part.

But when thinking back to previous Games, the British public isn't clear whether the London events will be better than those of previous years, with significant numbers expecting the London Games to be fairly similar in quality to those gone by.

While half would bet London 2012 will come out better than the Athens 2004 Games, just under a third of those interested in the Olympics think Britain's capital will offer an improvement on the 2008 Beijing Games, and only around a quarter believes London will be better than the 2000 Sydney events.

  • 49% think the London Games will be better than the 2004 Athens Olympics, 6% think the Athens games will be better, 23% think there won’t be much difference
  • 30% think the London games will be better than the 2008 Beijing Games, 21% think the Beijing Games will have been better, 30% think there won’t be much difference
  • 27% think the London Games will be better than the Sydney Games, 18% say the Sydney Games will win out, 34% say there will be not much difference between the two

Make or break: the first five days

The Telegraph is just one newspaper to report that 'failure is not considered an option' for organisers of London 2012, who face an unprecedented challenge this summer to keep things running smoothly for at least the first five days, which, reportedly, can 'make or break' the event.

LOCOG chief executive Paul Deighton stressed the importance of the 'first impressions' namely the Opening Ceremony, which demands ‒ among other challenges ‒ that thousands of spectators get in and out of the Olympic stadium without mishap ore delay before broadcast to a billion-strong television audience. This includes 120 heads of state, 5,000 VIPs, up to 10,000 athletes, 12,000 performers and 40,000 spectators.

Sir James Dyson writes in The Guardian however that failure in general should not be ruled out or treated as disastrous, saying “[Failure] can spur on greatness, the cue to persist against the odds. Keep an eye out for the athletes who don't make it to the podium this year", he continued, referring to the pressure athletes may be feeling as they prepare for next week's tournaments. "They may hold gold in Rio 2016."

Dyson added that in the event of “the keen sting of failure” with the event, subsequent sporting achievements “should not be shunned".

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