Olympics boosted Britain’s name abroad, study says

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BRITAIN did a good job of organising the Olympics to bolster the nation’s reputation abroad, a British Council study claims.

London 2012 was well-organised, according to 64 per cent of the 8,000 adults surveyed from 11 key overseas economies.

The high profile Games showed the UK to be a confident and multi-ethnic society, 55 per cent said.

Memories of London’s attention-grabbing Olympics were still strong in the minds of adults from the key nations, including the United States, South Africa, Poland, Thailand, India, Brazil, China, Spain, Turkey, Russia and Saudi Arabia, who were interviewed.

In total, 44 per cent believed the Olympics had improved the UK’s influence over world affairs, while three per cent felt it reduced it.

A total of 36 per cent said the Olympics had made them more likely to visit the UK and 35 per cent felt the UK was a more tempting place to study or do business. Only 18 per cent disagreed.

China, which hosted the previous Olympics in 2008, was least likely to be positive about the UK’s job of organising the 2012 Games, headed up by Lord Coe.

Just 36 per cent of Chinese felt London 2012 was well-organised but 43 per cent still believed the Games had improved the UK’s influence over world affairs.

A total of 82 per cent of South Africans believed London 2012 was well-organised, along with 78 per cent of people from India, and 65 per cent from both Brazil and Russia, which are hosting the Rio 2016 Olympics and Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Danny Boyle’s £27m Olympic opening ceremony reflected the best of both modern and traditional Britain, according to 56 per cent of respondents – just seven per cent disagreed.

A total of 27 per cent said they saw or were aware of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Some 31 per cent said the Jubilee had improved their view of the UK, while three per cent said it had worsened it.

John Worne, the British Council’s strategy director, said: “To know us is to love us and this year the UK has got everything right in turning some great national moments into global celebrations of excellence, ‘can do’ attitude and UK culture.

“The challenge now is to stay on top of the world in 2013. Without a huge global event like the Olympics next year, we need to keep on finding smart new ways to share our soft power assets: English, our education system, our vibrant arts scene and our entrepreneurial spirit to name but a few.”

VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said the hard work begins now that the global spotlight is no longer on Britain.

She said: “These spectacular events created a once in a lifetime year for the British and a year in which our country has never looked so good to viewers around the world.”

VisitBritain is forecasting international tourism to Britain will grow by three per cent in 2013. This would mean almost one million extra visitors to the UK who will spend a record £19 billion.