A study from British Airways reveals that Brits are going to enormous lengths to give Team GB and ParalympicsGB a home advantage this summer, even if it means cancelling their holiday plans or personal engagements.
More than 40 per cent of Brits have already juggled their holiday specifically around the London 2012 Games, in order to stay at home and support our athletes. One in ten Britons have even cancelled their holiday, while ten per cent have held back from booking a break this year in order to get behind the team.
Over a third of Londoners would change their holiday plans to watch the games, 45 per cent of people in the East Midlands and 89 per cent of people surveyed in Northern Ireland are dedicated to watching the games.
Nearly 10 per cent of those polled would cancel a family engagement or a romantic date to watch the Games.
Fourty-three per cent of 18-24 year olds feel the best way to show their support is by attending the Games, while almost 50 per cent of those aged over 55 believe the best way to support is by watching on TV. Ten per cent of 18-24 year olds even said they would be praying for our team. However 58 per cent of the public believes that being on home soil will increase our athletes chances of winning.
There has been a surge in British pride in recent weeks, with an impressive 38 per cent of Brits feeling more patrotic since the Olympic Flame landed in the UK on flight BA2012 with David Beckham and the Princess Royal on May 18. Furthermore a third of Brits agree that the Olympic Games is the most important national event to take place in their lifetime, saying it makes them feel proud to be British.
Social anthropologist Kate Fox, author of Watching The English: The Hidden Rules Of English Behaviour, said: “We are normally a nation of ‘closet patriots’ – we may feel proud to be British, but we don’t often make a big, gushy, flag-waving fuss about it.
“Except over rare national moments like the Queen’s Jubilee and sport: big sporting events such as the London 2012 Games, which provide an antidote to our social dis-ease and cynicism, providing us with an appropriate excuse to shed some of our inhibitions and be a bit more emotive and demonstrative in support of our national team. At big gatherings like this, members of a tribe experience aspecial energy, which is known as ‘collective effervescence’ and has a bonding and unifying effect. This effect will certainly be felt by our athletes, and may well help to boost their performance.”
With home support behind them, former gold medallist Matthew Pinsent also believes that Team GB and ParalympicsGB could go all the way. He said: “Every athlete knows and understands the feeling of competing on home ground. There’s a magic about knowing the eyes of your country are on you. Winning gold at home is the ultimate challenge and the most sought-after prize in an athlete’s career. The support of the nation means everything.”
Home advantage doesn’t just apply to the Games. The research has also discovered that 69 per cent of people believe you can be more successful in life if you have the support of friends and family, a clear sign that home support can help people succeed.
To give the home nation a boost, British Airways has launched the ‘Flying Britain Home’ campaign, offering a quarter of a million pounds worth of flights to Brits that live abroad to fly back for the Games. A further 50 flights have been offered to Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes to bring their friends and family home for an extra boost during the Games. The promotion runs until June 14 on facebook.com/britishairways.
Luisa Fernandez, British Airways sponsorship manager said; “It’s such a proud time to be British and we’re hoping to get the nation into the spirit by flying hundreds of ex-pats back to the UK to celebrate the summer of sport.
We are immensley proud to support Team GB and ParalympicsGB and will be doing everything we can to rally the nation behind them and give our athletes a home advantage.”