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Britons surprised by how Olympics brought country together

Half think it will have lasting effect with more volunteering and sport

Published:19 August 2012
Fieldwork:10-13 August 2012
Source:Social Research Institute
Keywords:Britain, Ethnic minorities, Multiculturalism, Olympics, Race, RFC, society, Sport
(Click on keywords to find related Research)

Most Britons are surprised by how much the Olympic Games has brought the country together (67%), and 58% think it will have a lasting positive impact on British society, according to new research for thinktank British Future.

The public indicated changes it thought would be brought about as a result, including an increase in the level of volunteering (50%), and how much sport people in Britain play (79% think it will increase).

There were signs of concern too, with 65% agreeing that British people do not talk enough about Britain’s achievements, and 64% agreeing the British media tended to focus too much “on negative aspects of society”.

As the Olympics ended last weekend, the poll of more than 1000 adults aged 16-75 carried out by Ipsos MORI for the think-tank British Future, shows that 78% of people think that the Olympics have had a positive effect on the way Britain is viewed by the rest of the world. This is a bounce from 64% when British Future polled a similar question in November last year.

Danny Boyle’s Olympic ceremony resonated with the public, with 66% agreeing it reflected the best of traditional and modern Britain, and 75% agreeing that the Olympics had shown Britain to be a confident, multi-ethnic society.

Not only that, but Britons overwhelmingly believe that the Games have improved the mood of the public. Some 86 % believe they have had a positive effect, with 53% deeming that effect to be very positive.

This is in sharp contrast to how the people felt eight months ago when only 64% of the public thought the nation's mood would be improved by the Olympics (see British Future's report Hopes and Fears below).

Moreover, 58% now believe that the impact of the Olympics on British society will be lasting, with most also agreeing they have been surprised by how much the Olympics has brought Britain together (67%). A whopping 82% of us think the Games will make us more proud to be British.

Perhaps most heartening of all, three quarters of us (75%) agree that the Olympics have shown Britain to be a confident multi-ethnic society, while the same number support all Team GB athletes equally regardless of where they were born.

Other findings show:

  • British cynics are now definitely in a minority when it comes to national events - just one in five (22%) maintain that events like the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee "are distractions from the real issues facing the country" while 70% agree that these events "bring people together in Britain and improve the mood of the nation." 
  • Britons also believe the games will increase how much sport people play in Britain (79%) and up the level of volunteering (50%). However, people tend to say the effect will be small. Only one in five believe that the amount of sport people play will increase a lot and only 12% think there will be a large increase in the level of volunteering.

However, despite all the good feeling about the Olympics, Britons are less positive generally, about whether 2012 has been a good year for them and their families. About a quarter of people (27%) say that 2012 has been a bad year with just under half (47%) saying it has been a good one, with the rest saying it has neither been good nor bad. When asked the same question about Britain and Europe, Britons are even more pessimistic. Only 30% think it has generally been a good year for Britain and only 5% that it has been a good year for Europe.

  • Download the survey topline

Technical Note:

This poll was conducted by Ipsos MORI for  British Future. Results are based on  1,015 interviews with people aged 16-75 in Great Britain as part of Ipsos MORI’s Online Omnibus, with data weighted to the known profile of the population. Fieldwork took place between 10-13 August 2012, and will form part of a new report out next month on Team GB and its impact on Britain.

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