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UK public gives the Winter Olympics the cold shoulder

SPECTACLE: Winter Olympics 2018

DESPITE THE huge number of broadcast hours, column inches and online articles dedicated to it, new research by City Road Communications has revealed that the majority of the UK public had little interest in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The PR and communications agency commissioned an independent, nationally representative survey of more than 2,000 UK adults. It found that almost two thirds (64%) of people across the country could not name a single member of the Team GB squad currently in Pyeongchang, South Korea for the 23rd Winter Olympics.

In fact, one in six (16%) Brits only tune in to the BBC’s coverage of the competition for the chance to potentially see an athlete fall or crash at high speed.

When it came to such schadenfreude, men (20%) were more likely than women (12%) to switch on for this reason, while millennials (26% of 18-34 year olds) were also particularly guilty of watching with this motivation.

The 2018 Winter Olympics are estimated to have cost £13 billion. Across 17 days 2,925 athletes completed for 102 medals in 15 disciplines. So why, given the prestige and attention it garners on the world stage, have such large portions of the UK given the Winter Olympics the cold shoulder?

Well, 41% of respondents to City Road Communications’ survey stated that a major reason they have no interest in the Winter Olympics is because the UK does not have the climate or terrains to host many of the sports – as such they have never tried or watched the events.

A further 37% find winter sports prohibitively expensive, meaning they have developed little interest in skiing, snowboarding or ice-skating.

The research comes as Eddie Edwards, aka 'Eddie the Eagle', has stated that he believes too much money is spent funding winter sports. He said: “While we should be supporting our athletes we shouldn’t be spending tens of millions of pounds on trying to keep up with the Austrians, with the Swiss, with the Germans, who have got the snow and the facilities.”

Dominic Pollard, Director of City Road Communications, commented: “Today’s research confirms our sneaking suspicion that, despite a huge amount of media attention, the majority of people across the UK simply aren’t that interested in the Winter Olympics.

“Millions of us understandably struggle to muster much enthusiasm for sports we never get to take part in. It’s a perfect example that despite all the money spent on the Games by both UK Sport and the BBC, if you cannot find ways to make something accessible and relatable then you will struggle to inspire meaningful consumer engagement.”

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