OPINION: Shift Olympics talk away from money

Setting the budget for the 2012 Olympic Games at last gives the Government and the event's organisers a chance to get off the back foot and start to sell the real potential of the event across the country.

Up to now it has seemed as if there hasn’t been a communications strategy to sell the benefits of the London Games since the celebration of the bid team’s success in the capital’s Trafalgar Square two years ago.

I happen to think that the public at large are generally supportive of the Olympics, and that the size of the bill is of relatively little concern to them – £9bn (and rising?) for the Olympics, £56bn for Trident’s replacement, £92bn a year for the health service. The numbers are largely meaningless to the man on the street.

But the Olympics are coming and it is all but impossible to imagine a scenario under which they would not go ahead.

People will want the Olympics to be a success – a chance to ‘show off’ rather than ‘show up’ our country. The experience of the new Wembley Stadium is a case in point; it may have cost £800m, but by the time the final whistle has blown on Cup Final day, most people will have nothing but praise for the renovation project. The venue already looks awesome.

The media are running the risk of being in the wrong place on the London 2012 Olympics – a mistake that the opposition parties speaking in last week’s cross-party debate were canny enough to avoid by voicing concerns, rather than doubts or regrets.

So, what can the Government and the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games do, in PR terms, to maintain support?

Well, they could stop talking just about the regeneration of East London as, sadly, this hardly resonates in Hounslow, let alone Huddersfield. Instead, let the focus be on the bigger picture of raising national achievement and pride, and of celebrating diversity and cohesion. The world wants to come to London in 2012 because they see a Games here as a positive force for good.

They will be beneficial for London and beneficial for the whole nation – so can we just stop the moaning please?

Lorraine Langham is co-founder and managing director of Verve Communications

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