Boyle's genius swings a sceptical British public the Games
Opening Ceremony converts doubters as half now say £9.3bn Olympics is worth it
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Tuesday 31 July 2012
A sceptical British public has become much more positive about the London Olympics since the spectacular opening ceremony on Friday night, according to polling for The Independent.
ComRes found that 50 per cent of people now believe the Olympics will be worth the £9.3bn being spent from the public purse, while 42 per cent disagree and 8 per cent are "don't knows".
The upswing in support for the Games comes as officials insist that they have a handle on the empty seats problem during the first few days of competition.
Opinion on the Games has turned round since ComRes tested support in March, when only 40 per cent of people thought the Games would be worth it and 51 per cent disagreed.
The latest survey suggests that Danny Boyle's opening ceremony, which cost £27m, helped to generate a "feelgood factor". Only 43 per cent of those questioned on Friday before the spectacular event began at 9pm agreed the Olympics would be worth the money. But the proportion rose to 53 per cent among those who answered after 9pm and during the rest of the weekend.
Of those questioned on Saturday, 52 per cent thought the Games were worth it and on Sunday the figure rose to 57 per cent.
Overall, men (54 per cent) are more likely than women (47 per cent) to agree that the Olympics provide value for money for taxpayers. Higher social grades are more likely to agree than lower social groups: 57 per cent in the top AB group believe the Games are worth the money, compared with 43 per cent in the bottom DE grade.
Conservative supporters (64 per cent) and Liberal Democrat voters (73 per cent) are more likely to regard the Games as good value for taxpayers than Labour supporters (52 per cent).
The growing support for the Games will confound sceptics in other countries, including Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate in the US presidential race, who questioned whether British people had the appetite for the event.
Yesterday the organisers, Locog, said they had put an extra 3,000 tickets on the market and would continue to try to make sure that unclaimed seats were offered to the public. Officials are going cap-in-hand to other national sport federations asking them to return any tickets that aren't being used.
"We're doing this session by session, talking to the accredited groups – including obviously broadcast media and everybody else – and asking whether we can release, for the different sessions, tickets back into the public pot," said the Locog communications director Jackie Brock-Doyle.
So far more than 600 new tickets have been made available for the gymnastics while a further 400 seats went on sale for the morning sessions of the beach volleyball. Some seats reserved for the media have also been handed over to the public. Tickets will be made available online for the following day's sessions as they become available, the organisers said.
The Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said organisers were considering whether they could bring in a 30-minute rule where seats that lay unclaimed for too long could be sold on. Most of the events at the Olympic Park yesterday showed noticeably fuller spectator stands.
The £9.3bn bill for taxpayers includes £6.25bn from central government, £2.18bn from the National Lottery, £880m from London's City Hall and £40m from Sport England. A further £700m will be provided by the International Olympic Committee and £700m from sponsors such as Adidas, BP and BMW and £600m from ticket sales, taking the total budget to £11.35bn.
ComRes interviewed 1,004 GB adults by telephone between 27 and 29 July, 2012. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults and by past vote recall. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full tables at www.comres.co.uk.
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