Olympics inspires few to take up sport

Only seven per cent of the British public have been inspired by the Olympic games to take up sport, according to a new YouGov survey.

Commissioned for Pro Bono Economics, of the remaining 93 per cent: 18 per cent cited their busy lifestyle for their failure to get active; 17 per cent quoted the expensive cost of playing sport as being the main reason stopping them; 12 per cent suggested that a lack of local facilities stunted their uptake; while, a further 12 per cent highlighted a lack of confidence to participate in sport.

The survey emphasised how most Britons would forego medal wins at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in favour of better access to sports facilities in the UK, which they believe would enable larger numbers of the public to participate in sport, not just the elite. This challenges the recent record funding of up to £345 million by UK Sport to take the country on a ‘journey to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and beyond’, with only four per cent of respondents to the survey supporting this strategy.

18 per cent desired more community sports centres with more affordable entrance fees, while 14 per cent said that support for local grassroots sports and fitness initiatives and improved physical exercise in schools should be prioritised.

Pro Bono Economics is hosting its annual lecture, entitled ‘Has Britain got sport upside down?’, on 27 February. It will be hosted by Simon Kuper, co-author of Soccernomics and Financial Times columnist.

He said of the survey: “These findings support my theory that Britain really has got sport upside down. Why spend billions on an Olympics when few kids in the country have the facilities to play judo, fencing or equestrianism anywhere near their homes? In many neighbourhoods it's hard even to find a decent football field. The sell-off of school playing fields in the Thatcher/Major years did terrible damage to British sport.

“Instead of obsessing about who is the next England football manager, let’s spend that energy creating places for people to play sport near their homes. It would be a strategy to increase national health, happiness and sense of community, to fight crime - and maybe even to improve the England football team.”

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