A few years ago, comedian Marcus Brigstocke beautifully summed up the national response to the news that we’d be hosting the Olympic Games:
‘“Would you like the oldest, most historically significant athletic competition the world has ever known, attracting athletes from every known nation on the face of the planet to come here and perform at the peak of their abilities in the very country where you live?” Most British people go “Where will we park?”’
Mitt Romney made a similar observation last night, albeit without the humour. When asked by NBC’s Brian Williams whether London’s ready for the Games, he said:
‘You know, it’s hard to know just how well it will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting, the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging. Because in the Games, there are three parts that makes Games successful. Number one, of course, are the athletes. That’s what overwhelmingly the Games are about. Number two are the volunteers. And they’ll have great volunteers here. But number three are the people of the country. Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? And that’s something which we only find out once the Games actually begin.’
So what do we Brits actually think of the Olympics? When I took a look at the polling a year ago, YouGov showed the majority of us were simply not interested. That was still the case in their poll last week, although interest seems to have heightened in the few days since. Their most recent poll — conducted on Sunday and Monday — found that a slim majority (51 per cent) are now interested in the Olympics (although only 22 per cent say they’re ‘very interested’).
The poll also found that 54 per cent do share Romney’s concerns about security (hardly surprising after the G4S fiasco) — only 31 per cent think the security arrangements will ‘cope well’.
YouGov didn’t specifically ask if what we’re all worried about is, as Brigstocke said, where we’ll park, but it did show that 53 per cent are ‘concerned about the transport arrangements’ — including almost three quarters of Londoners. And just 15 per cent think London’s roads will cope over the next few weeks.
If David Cameron is planning to tell Romney that he’s wrong about our enthusiasm for the Games (as Paul Waugh reports), he might want to produce the more optimistic figures in the poll. 53 per cent of us believe the Olympics will be a success, against just 10 per cent who say they’ll be a failure. And 58 per cent think it will ‘be good for London generally’. But he’d better stop there: a mere 23 per cent say it’ll ‘be good for people like me’.Tags: Olympics, opinion polls