73 percent of Wales sees 'no benefit' from Olympics

Olympic signs in Cardiff city centre
Cardiff plays host to the men’s and women’s football tournaments, starting today Photo: Luca Bruno/AP/PA

The Welsh public is failing to see what tangible benefit the Olympic games will bring to their local area, despite organisers insisting the public money spent on the event would have an impact across Britain.

In an exclusive poll for ITV Wales, 73 percent of people surveyed said that they believed the Games would have no lasting impact at all.

ITV Wales Olympic Games poll
An exclusive ITV Wales poll revealed that 73 percent of people in Wales think the Olympic Games will have no lasting impact here. Credit: ITV News Wales

That is despite millions of pounds being spent in Wales, as the capital Cardiff plays host to the men’s and women’s football tournaments, starting tomorrow.

As well as the football, which will include marquee games featuring the British men’s and women’s teams and the latter stages of both competitions, several international Olympic committees have chosen Wales as their training base ahead of the competition.

The survey of 1,000 people across Wales also showed big disparities between age groups in the perceptions of how beneficial the games will be.

Over a quarter (26 percent) of 18-24-year-olds said they believe the games will have a positive impact in their local area. Only 12 percent of those aged 60 and over had a similar view.

The regional breakdown also indicates disparities between areas of Wales.

In the Cardiff and South Wales Central region, 65 percent of people surveyed believed there would be no impact at all in their area. That figure rose to 76 percent in North Wales, whilst in Mid and West Wales a massive 81 percent agreed that would be the case.

Reiterating the UK-wide benefits of hosting an event as big and expensive as the Olympic and Paralympic Games has been an important mainstay of the Organising Committee’s public relations bid.

Speaking earlier this year, London 2012 Chairman Lord Sebastian Coe was clear that Wales, and Cardiff in particular, would feel very much a part of the Olympic movement.

The Football tournament does start in Cardiff a couple of days before the Opening Ceremony and it runs for the entirety of the Games. So there is a massive opportunity for the people in Manchester, Cardiff, and Coventry, to really enjoy and be a part of this.

– Lord Sebastian Coe, London 2012 Chairman

However that view, it would appear, has not filtered through to the Welsh public, with many now clearly apathetic towards the tangible benefits they will see and feel from the Games.

There has been investment in Wales, however.

Cardiff University is one of a number of sports venues and organisations that has seen direct investment as a result of the Games.

As a host venue for the Amateur International Boxing Association’s pre-games Developing Nations Training Camp, they have been able to open a brand new boxing facility that will allow students and members of the public to train on competition-level equipment.

They have also received over £500,000 worth of investment towards upgrading their grass pitches at their Llanrumney sports ground as part of a deal that will see all teams playing at the city’s Millennium Stadium using the ground as a training venue.

Following the Olympics, those pitches will then go back to being used by both the University and the general public.

LOCOG, the Games Organising Committee, are adamant that giving Wales the chance to host games will be a major boost for the city and surrounding area.

In a statement, they reiterated that the 11 games taking place at the Millennium Stadium as well as the training camps will increase visitor numbers to the area and bring with it major economic benefits running into the “millions of pounds”.

They also stated that 51 businesses have won contracts to bring their services to the Games, worth an estimated £39 million, whilst over 800 schools have joined initiatives to get more children involved in sport.