London 2012 took the world by storm, being the most reported and talked about event of the year. It dominated our headlines throughout the entire world, with NBC’s coverage of London 2012 as the “most watched event in US history”.
Great Britain’s TV ratings sky-rocketed to a whopping 27 million viewers, this being at the opening ceremony, the biggest TV ratings recorded in almost 50 years. For an event with this much hype and anticipation throughout the world, this event came at a phenomenal price; £9bn was invested in the games, and the words on the tips of everyone’s’ tongues is- was it worth it?
When looking at the figures in black and white, it is easy to say that no, too much money and time was put into Team GB’s performance during the games. However when we look back at the success and performance our country produced, it is clear to see that yes, it was extremely worth it.
From the results of the Olympics in Athens, it was clear that we needed to increase our funding to be able to excel in our strongest areas. Funding was increased from £70,000,000 to £264,000,000 and due to this, Great Britain has given its best performance in over 100 years, with a whopping 29 gold medals, and 65 medals overall. Statistics show that the money spent was spent wisely- 85% of our Olympic funding was spent on sports in which we won gold, silver or bronze medals, and a miniscule 15% of our costs were spent where no medals were won, yet our Olympians still managed to place high in the score boards.
For example, Athletics were given a huge 9.52% of the funding for the Olympics, producing dazzling performances and gold medals from champions Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah to name but a few. Hosting the Olympic Games has made our country proud and patriotic- Great Britain has seen a rise in sports and activities being taken up by the younger generations especially, and the games acquired a ‘Feel Good Factor’ since they got underway leading to the motto of the games being “inspire a generation”.
Even though such positivity occurred during the games, there was also a backlash of negativity due to the cuts being made in other sports. It appeared to members of the public that the majority of funding was being thrown at the sports where we knew we would excel, which left sports such as handball and volleyball with limited funding, enable to excel further. For example, the disappointment of the medal tables in
swimming led to a punishment of budget cuts, which led to extreme uproar.
One gentleman stated in reaction to this Swimming should have its funding increased rather than cut. Not only is it a major Olympic sport but it’s also a sport that practically everyone in the country has access to. If we want to improve, we need to invest more.” However, this negativity is not shared amongst the majority of the public. If funding to the less successful sports were maintained, then there is no way that we would have achieved the same amount of medals in sports such as rowing/cycling and we would not have excelled and been as successful as we were.
These criticisms are quibbles set against a backdrop of purely incredible success, with Great Britain being estimated by UK Sport in coming at least fourth place, we shot forward to third, securing our place successfully in Olympic history.
London 2012 was dominated and drowned by the media throughout, sponsored and supported by many worldwide brands such as McDonalds, Cadbury, Coca-Cola and Adidas, to name but a few. The Olympic hype spread like a fever throughout the media, creating a storm of chaos, plastering the front page of newspapers and broadsheets, dominating the headlines daily.
Everywhere you turned, the Olympics were there in full throttle. Billboards, adverts, newspapers, magazines and radio stations covered the games 24/7. The BBC dominated the coverage of the games, and they reportedly paid £60 million for the rights to cover the games. The opening ceremony reportedly took in 27 million viewers in the UK alone, setting a record of the most watched television in over 50 years.
They believe that their coverage is their most ambitious strategy yet, extending their usual evening hours of broadcasting during the games which cost £4 million in order to enable daytime sports coverage. A new radio station was even created costing a further £200,000 named ‘Five Live Olympics Extra’ to run alongside Five Live and Five Live Sports Extra’s coverage of the games.
Athletes such as Usain Bolt featured in adverts in the run up to the games, transforming him into a role model for many members of the public. One of the most memorable moments of the games also, came not in sporting triumph but also came from taking part. When double amputee Oscar Pistorius broke new ground by just competing in the games- the first Paralympian to do so ever on the track, was a moment in which we as a nation were proud and made the history books.
The media capitalised on making athletes such as him one of the many ‘faces’ of the games. However at the time, the BBC did also cater for those who weren’t drawn in by the Olympic fever, by publishing 1000 hours of video content online via the BBC website. The media coverage of the games has been seen by some critics as ‘too much ’, however how can we say that a moment and a legacy like this, which will go down in history and be remembered for years, even centuries, have too much coverage?
David Bond, BBC Sports Editor supports this, stating that this is “A celebration of sporting achievement, of the country’s passion, heritage, and a rarely witnessed can-do culture.” This is one of biggest and best moments in British Olympic history, a time in which we as a nation are definitely proud to be British, with Great Britain showing more unity and patriotism than ever before.
Photo courtesy of Ian Duffy