FCO Public Diplomacy: The Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012 - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1.  The 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games is likely to be the event with the greatest international profile for the UK during the 2010 Parliament. We have held a brief inquiry, with a view to finding out what the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is doing with respect to the Olympics, what the UK might reasonably hope to gain from the event in terms of public diplomacy, and how the FCO can best exploit the Games for public diplomacy purposes.

2.  We held an oral evidence session to explore these issues on 10 November 2010. Our witnesses were Simon Anholt, independent policy adviser, author and researcher, who specialises in national identity and reputation, and who is co-producer of the annual Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index prepared for the FCO; Dr Patrick Spaven OBE, Visiting Fellow, Centre for Public Policy and Management, Manchester Business School, who specialises in the evaluation of public diplomacy; and Jeremy Browne MP, Minister of State at the FCO with responsibility for public diplomacy and for the FCO's work in relation to the Olympic Games, accompanied by Conrad Bird, Head of Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communications, FCO. In addition, we received written evidence from the FCO, from Professor Nick Cull of the University of Southern California (with whom we also held an informal meeting), and from Lord Bates of Langbaurgh. We are grateful to all those who submitted evidence.

3.  In this Report we first review the concepts of public diplomacy, 'soft power' and 'nation branding'. We consider the UK's international reputation, and the lessons to be learned from other countries' experience of hosting major international sporting events. We then consider in more detail the FCO's strategy for the 2012 Olympics and the specific initiatives associated with it, as well as issues of funding, the promotion of trade and the 'green agenda', and other matters.

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