3 The FCO's strategy for the 2012
26. The FCO comments that the London Olympic
and Paralympic Games will have "a profound impact on the
UK's international reputation". They "will throw a spotlight
on the UK like no other sporting event in generations. [...] There
will be an estimated global audience of 4 billion. Around 14,700
participants will attend, with 120 heads of state, 25,000 journalists
and 320,000 extra foreign visitors to the UK."
27. The FCO notes that:
The Foreign Secretary is determined that the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office should play a full part in delivering
a successful games and tangible international legacy for the UK.
Overseas activity will concentrate on securing solid benefits
linked to our foreign policy priorities: security, prosperity
and strong bilateral relations and that these priorities will
fit within the broad coalition government Olympic priorities.
28. The policy is being presented as a continuation
of that of the previous Government. Ministers state that when
they came to office, "some good foundations [were] in place,
but the FCO now needs to build on them".
29. The UK's original Olympics bid in 2005 emphasised
the welcome that would be offered by London as a 'world city'
with a diverse, youthful and open-minded population:
Thanks to the city's diversity, there will be supporters
from every Olympic nation. Every athlete will have a home crowd.
And every Paralympian will enjoy a fantastic atmosphere too, from
British crowds famous for their love of Paralympic sport. [...]
London is a city which welcomes the world with open arms and an
open mind. A city in which 300 languages are spoken every day
and those who speak them live happily side-by-side. It is a city
rich in culture, [...] with sport at heart, [and] which is a magnet
for young people from all over the world. London is already their
No. 1 destination.
30. The FCO has set the following objectives
for its Olympics campaign:
- National interest:
To contribute to UK foreign policy goals by using the profile
of the Olympics to promote British culture and values at home
and abroad. To cement Britain's reputation as a valuable bilateral
partner and a vibrant, open and modern society, a global hub in
a networked world.
To bolster the UK economy, increase commercial opportunities for
British business in target countries, and secure high value inward
To enhance our security by harnessing the global appeal of the
Olympics, particularly among the young, to reinforce values of
tolerance, moderation and openness.
- Cross-Government approach:
To work seamlessly with other Government Departments and partners,
mobilising the powerful asset of the FCO's unique network of Posts
to deliver the greatest international impact for our strategy.
Changing the image of the UK:
31. The FCO proposes "to use London 2012
as a catalyst for changing perceptions of the UK worldwide",
and "to use [...] these new perceptions to increase the UK's
influence, and thus to assist in the delivery of the FCO's objectives".
As we have seen in paragraph 13 above, research shows that the
overall international perceptions of the UK are positive ones.
The FCO plans to use the Olympic Games to build on these positive
perceptions in the following ways.
THE 'SEE BRITAIN (THROUGH MY EYES)'
32. This "exercise in soft power" has
the aim of "invit[ing] audiences around the world to take
a fresh and positive look at Britain". It is conceived as
an initiative in which all 243 Posts can participate, but is targeted
especially at a smaller number of priority countries: "strategically-important
countries where we saw particular potential to pursue British
interests and where we aimed to work most pro-actively".
We have been supplied in confidence with the FCO's list of priority
33. As part of this campaign, the FCO has commissioned
a series of 30 four-minute films featuring people with non-British
citizenship or family background talking about what Britain has
meant to them. Most of these films will be issued over forthcoming
months. Three which have already been issued have the following
- Zeinab Badawi, Sudanese-born
newsreader (talking about freedom of speech and Britain's thriving
- Mushtaq Ahmed, Pakistani bowler
and now spin bowling coach of the England cricket team (talking
about British religious tolerance and diversity), and
- Jonathan Mills, Australian
Director of the Edinburgh International Festival (talking about
cultural and artistic diversity and dynamism).
34. The films will be disseminated digitally,
through social media and the internet. In addition, Posts around
the world will use them as a focus for events and activities.
INITIATIVES BY POSTS
35. The FCO has supplied us with examples of
initiatives by individual Posts, often focussing on symbolic actions.
These have included the participation by 55 Posts in the 2010
Sport Relief mile, raising money for local charities; the Jerusalem
Consulate's sponsorship of a female street car racing team in
Palestine (which gained a total audience online in excess of 300
million at a cost of less than £10,000); Olympics- and Paralympics-
related promotions by Posts with support from the core London
team; and seeking out non-traditional partners including UK Sport,
the Edinburgh Festivals and the National Theatre. Between autumn
2009 and April 2010, 117 initiatives were developed in 84 countries
through 32 separate grants.
36. Ministers have commissioned a "structured
18-month engagement strategy setting out priority countries and
milestones", and describe work on it as "well advanced".
The strategy will be aimed at priority countries (see paragraph
32 above) and diaspora communities in the UK.
37. Present and planned initiatives include:
- A TV documentary on the building
of the Olympic Park, entitled Going for Green: Britain's 2012
Dream. This was launched by the Foreign Secretary on 10 November;
the FCO anticipates a global audience of between 150 and 300 million.
- The use of three "campaign
Olympic Ambassadors" (the oarsman Sir Steve Redgrave, the
Paralympian athlete Lady Grey-Thompson, and the Paralympian swimmer
Chris Holmes) who will spread the 2012 messages globally. In addition,
the FCO is "exploring" with Lord Coe what role he can
play in the same endeavour.
- Bilateral activity using the
pre-Games training camps of individual countries to encourage
links between the UK and those countries (for instance, between
Japan and the Loughborough region, where the Japanese team will
- Promotion, in conjunction with
UK Sport and the British Council, of the 'International Inspirations'
programme, which aims to give 12 million children in 20 countries
access to high-quality and inclusive physical education, sport
- Spreading the message of the
2012 Games by using "friends of the UK" such as Chevening
Scholars, and through regular events such as Queen's Birthday
Parties, receptions and trade events, and by using social network
media and viral marketing (e.g. through dedicated Twitter
and Facebook feeds, and by uploading new short films every two
to four weeks).
38. The overall assessment of the FCO's Olympics
strategy and initiatives by our non-FCO witnesses was a mixed
one. Professor Nick Cull stated that he was "impressed by
the FCO's plan", which is "well conceived to deliver
helpful results towards appropriate policy objectives".
Simon Anholt commented that "there are one or two aspects
of the Olympic plan that look to me to be very, very well thought-out,
and that could seriously benefit some of those aspects of our
culture and our personality". He cited in particular the
International Inspirations programme, as did both Dr Spaven and
Professor Cull. The
latter commented that the programme
was an essential part of the bid and should be emphasized
throughout the 2012 plan. It is of value in both practical and
symbolic ways, and credit should flow to the UK from this. Perhaps
representatives of those involved in that program could be built
into 2012 ceremonial in some way.
39. Professor Cull also stated that he was impressed
by the prominence being given to the Paralympics within the 2012
Plan, which he described as "a significant act of ethical
leadership" by the FCO.
40. However, Simon Anholt also expressed a wish
to see more "refining of [its] objectives" by the FCO:
There seem to be quite a number of messages that
we are trying to get across about Britain during these Olympics.
They are somewhat vague and anodyne. They are a bit motherhood-and-apple-pie.
We would like to be seen as caring, sharing, tolerant, modern,
technological, equal, and so on. I am afraid my heart sinks when
I read these things, because it is what 90% of all countries want
to be perceived as, and it is just not very distinctive. In my
experience, you are lucky if you can prove one new thing about
your country, let alone 12. I would love to see us just saying,
"Here is the one thing which, through close analysis, we
have decided the UK can best use the Olympics to prove about itself"the
one thing. And then let's go about proving that.
41. We conclude that the 2012
London Olympic and Paralympic Games is likely to be a 'once in
a generation' opportunity for the UK to attract the attention
and interest of the entire global community. We note the academic
research which shows that national reputations, especially of
countries like the UK which are long-established actors on the
world stage, tend to alter only gradually and in response to long-term
trends. That being so, we think the FCO may be somewhat overstating
the case when it claims that the Games will have "a profound
impact on the UK's international reputation"and later
in this Report we consider the danger that, if things go wrong,
the Games could actually have an adverse effect on that reputation.
42. Nonetheless, we welcome
the many inventive proposals that the FCO has put forward for
capitalising on the Games in its public diplomacy work. Many specific
initiatives sponsored through its world-wide network of Posts
display range, imagination and sensitivity. We are particularly
impressed by the 'International Inspirations' programme, jointly
organised by the FCO with UK Sport and the British Council, which
aims to bring the benefits of sport to 12 million children in
20 countries. We recommend that the FCO should give high prominence
to this programme in its public diplomacy work.
43. We are concerned, however,
that the overall message conveyed by the FCO's campaign is somewhat
bland and ill-defined. We recommend that the campaign should focus
on sending out one overarching message. That message should be
the one successfully deployed in the UK's original Olympics bid,
that London is an open and welcoming city, and that the UK is
a diverse, inclusive and friendly countrythat both London
and the UK are, in a word, generous. Such a message
would also help to redress some long-standing misperceptions of
Funding and organisation
44. The FCO notes that for financial year 2009-10,
its Public Diplomacy Campaign was allocated a budget of £1.7
million, which was used to cover "contractor costs, agency
fees, creation of collateral (especially films) and was accessed
by Posts for funding to take forward local public diplomacy activity".
The core campaign team in London consisted of three officials
headed by a D6 (Home Civil Service Grade 7) team leader. The campaign
also made use of outside specialists recruited on a short-term
basis, and used a PR agency in its initial stages.
45. However, this separate funding stream was
cut as part of the FCO's contribution of £55 million towards
government spending cuts in the emergency budget of June 2010.
The FCO comments that "the workstream continues to have access
to wider Public Diplomacy funds to support communications work
at Post but the accent is now very much on no or low cost ways
of doing business as well as increased use of commercial sponsorship."
46. The FCO core campaign team, and Posts, are
encouraged to work closely with the FCO's "Public Diplomacy
Partners", including UKTI, the British Council, Visit Britain,
UK Sport, LOCOG (London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games),
the Government Olympic Executive, and the Mayor of London's office.
47. Asked to give examples of "no or low
cost ways of doing business", the Minister responded that
"At the moment, the way we are looking to fund projects is
through existing budgets, through small amounts of money that
may be available more generally for our communications in the
Department, and through commercial sponsorship where that is available";
though he conceded that "We may need to make more money available
in the centre nearer the time".
Conrad Bird, FCO Head of Public Diplomacy, commented that the
FCO's 'digital platform' represented a way of maximising the impact
of the UK's messages across the world at minimal cost. He said
that it was too early to give specific details of commercial sponsorship,
but that "our Posts are mindful of that, and have a track
record of trying to pull together imaginative sponsorship in those
48. We conclude that, although
it would be unrealistic to expect the FCO's budget to remain unscathed
at a time of economic stringency and public spending cuts, nonetheless
it is important that the Department's public diplomacy work in
connection with the Olympics should be regarded, during the crucial
18 months leading up to the Games, as being a priority area. We
are concerned that the decision to cut public diplomacy funding
may result in the FCO's work related to the Olympics becoming
a matter solely of individual initiatives by Posts, without adequate
central co-ordination. We recommend that the FCO should keep this
situation under review, and stand ready to restore some degree
of central funding if it becomes apparent that it would be desirable
and cost-effective to do so within the wider context of the FCO's
pre-Games public diplomacy strategy.
Promotion of British values and
49. One of the FCO's aims is to use the Games
to "promote British culture and values at home and abroad".
This aim overlaps with that of "enhanc[ing] our security
by harnessing the global appeal of the Olympics, particularly
among the young, to reinforce values of tolerance, moderation
and openness" and to "confound negative and sometimes
malicious stereotyping which can feed into radicalisation and
hostility towards us".
The FCO cites the example of its short film featuring England
cricket coach Mushtaq Ahmed, who is "idolised in his native
Pakistan". In the film Mushtaq speaks positively about his
experience of life as a Muslim in the UK, and the FCO anticipates
that the film, marketed over the internet, will reach segments
of Pakistani society, particularly a young male audience, who
would be hard to reach by other means.
50. Jeremy Browne also cited these films as an
example of the promotion of "British values":
They are an attempt to communicate with a Pakistani
audience, a Muslim audience, about the culture of tolerance, acceptance
and, I suppose, religious choice in this country. [
is a set of values, which may not be unique to Britain, but which
Britain espouses, that includes openness, democracy and multiculturalism
in a tolerant, transparent society. If we are able to communicate
those values to people using the games, that is all to the good.
Likewise, Conrad Bird, Head of Public Diplomacy at
the FCO, cited recent initiatives involving British Paralympians
in Palestine as an example of "a good opportunity to demonstrate
British attitudes towards disability".
51. We conclude that the FCO
is right to use the Games to "promote British culture and
values at home and abroad", and that it should continue to
target specific overseas audiences to whom it is important to
communicate the message that British society is based upon the
ideals of tolerance, diversity, respect for human rights, and
freedom of speech and religion.
52. The Chinese government's attempts to suppress
freedom of expression and peaceful protest during the 2008 Olympic
Games attracted much international criticism. When giving oral
evidence to us, Jeremy Browne was asked
Can you assure the Committee, unequivocally, that
when the Olympic Games happen here [...] this country's normal
right to freedom of expression, peaceful protest and demonstration,
and right to display banners, will be adhered to and upheld, regardless
of their causing some possible embarrassment or sensitivity to
those visiting dignitaries who allow no such freedom of expression
in their own countries?
53. The Minister responded:
We have in this country a long-standing observance
of free speech and freedom to protest [...]. That is very much
part of our tradition, and it will not be suspended because of
the Olympic Games being here.
54. We welcome the unequivocal
assurance by the Government that the long-standing rights of free
expression and freedom to protest peacefully in the UK will not
be suspended because of the Olympic Games. We recommend that the
Government, both in the run-up to the Games and during the Games
themselves, should firmly resist any pressure that may be applied
by certain foreign governments to curtail the rights of freedom
of expression and freedom to protest peacefully in the UK.
Promotion of trade
55. In July 2010 the Prime Minister told FCO
diplomats that they must become "economic ambassadors for
Britain" and that there needs to be "quite a big step
change in our approach to foreign and diplomatic relations in
massively upgrading the importance of trade in terms of the contacts
that we have with other countries".
In another speech in July, Mr Cameron said that the UK "should
be messianic in wanting to see free trade and open markets around
the world, and our foreign policy will be helping to deliver that
in a totally new, more hard-headed, more commercial way".
56. The FCO comments that its public diplomacy
work on the 2012 Olympics will "focus [...] sharply on the
trade and prosperity agendas in line with the new government's
The objective will be "to bolster the UK economy, increase
commercial opportunities for British business in target countries,
and secure high value inward investment".
57. The FCO states that it will work closely
with UKTI, in using the Games
to help us drive up exports and create opportunities
in wider markets, particularly using the 'Host2Host' agreements
with other hosting nations (Russia and Brazil) to deliver the
The Games will provide a catalyst for developing
new businesses, encouraging existing businesses to look to grow
and export to wider markets and as magnet for high value foreign
investment. As well as jobs, skills and growth created as a result
of firms supplying directly to the Games, there will be an opportunity
to project the capability of UK companies in delivering major
projects, on time and on budget, to the watching world. This is
key to a sustained business legacy as companies go on to compete
in international markets.
58. The FCO's memorandum notes that "UKTI/FCO
are planning a business hub at Games time to promote UK industry
and inward investment", and are looking at various venues,
including Lancaster House, which would "resonate with target
59. The scale of possible trade benefit arising
from the 2012 Olympics is indicated by the fact that, according
to the FCO, New South Wales attracted Aus$600 million in new business
investment from the Sydney Games in 2000.
60. Dr Patrick Spaven told us that the Olympics
offered "tremendous potential" for promoting British
trade, "probably more than for any other potential benefit
from the Olympics". He noted that this could be done in two
ways: first, by promoting the UK in general and London in particular
as places with "a good climate for business", with impressive
infrastructure and benign regulation (or the lack of it); secondly,
by utilising business opportunities offered by the Olympic site
itself, in relation to infrastructure, rapid transit and environmental
planning. Dr Spaven
considered that it was too early to assess whether enough was
being planned by way of trade promotion: "a lot of it will
be about schmoozing business people from abroad [
are things that probably need to be finalised nearer the time."
61. Simon Anholt commented to us that the proposal
to use Lancaster House as a "trade hub" during the Games
sounded very much like "business as usual". We queried
with Jeremy Browne whether the Government was being unambitious
in its planning for trade promotion. He responded by drawing our
attention to the way that promotion initiatives in the run-up
to the Games would be targeted on individual countries based on
commercial priorities, "particularly in key markets such
as China, India and Brazil as well as established ones such as
Germany and France".
Conrad Bird, Head of Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communications
at the FCO, added that "I think we may have under-described
the huge trade and promotional effort that is being made. It really
is very large indeed, and [includes] trade expo events [which]
are in planning at the moment."
62. The FCO subsequently submitted supplementary
evidence emphasising that "trade and commercial opportunities
will be a major focus for all of our Posts in the run up to 2012
and beyond", and giving more detailed information about planned
activities in this field.
It drew attention to the scale of the Host2Host programme intended
to forge relationships with other nations hosting major events
before and after the London Games. This will "showcase UK
expertise to our partner hosts in delivering major projects on
time and on budget. The scope of opportunity is vast, with countries
such as Russia and Brazil estimating approximately £90 billion
spends on Olympic and related infrastructure projects." In
addition, the FCO/UKTI will "directly showcase[e] UK capability
in delivering major events, through bid consultancy, design, architecture,
construction, fit-out and ticketing solutions", and by producing
a 'Supplier Directory' of UK expertise in these areas.
63. The FCO points out that the 2012 Olympics
will be "the biggest corporate networking event in the world",
and that it plans to capitalise on this by means of a "British
Business Embassy" set up during the Games period to "provide
a prestigious and cohesively branded platform to promote UK business".
There will be a series of sector events, including the annual
Global Investment Conference, "designed to promote UK capability
and attract high-value inward investment".
64. The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic
Games offers an unparalleled opportunity to promote UK business,
trade and inward investment. We note the FCO's stated commitment
to seizing this opportunity. We conclude that it is important
that the action matches the rhetoric. We recommend that, in addition
to the activities already being planned, the Government should
give urgent consideration to holding a trade event during the
period before or during the Games, at a suitably large and accessible
venue, to secure the maximum commercial benefit to the national
economy from this once-in-a-lifetime event when the eyes of the
world will be on the UK and unprecedented numbers of VIP guests
will be arriving on these shores. We further recommend that in
its response to this Report, the Government should give a detailed
update on its plans to promote trade and investment in conjunction
with the Games.
65. The FCO's promotional film, Going for
Green: Britain's 2012 Dream, launched in November 2010, lays
heavy emphasis on the 'greenness' of the London Olympics: what
the film's commentary calls "the radical proposal [...] to
host the world's first sustainable Olympic Games". The film
is being actively marketed to TV networks worldwideat the
distributor's cost"with an estimated audience of between
150 and 300 million people. The film draws attention to many examples
of environmental good practice in the way the Games and their
infrastructure have been planned, including:
- The decontamination of a heavily
polluted landscape, with the largest soil clean-up ever attempted
- 90% of material from buildings
demolished on the Olympic site will be re-used rather than sent
- Over 50% of construction materials
have been sent to the site by sustainable means (railway or canal);
- The site will feature the largest
public park opened in Britain since the 19th Century, incorporating
wetland habitats for wildlife, and
- The park is designed to be
absorbent, managing water flow from heavy rain and protecting
5,000 homes at risk from flooding.
66. However, the promotion of environmental good
practice is not listed amongst the Government's formal objectives
for its public diplomacy work on London 2012.
The FCO's written evidence does not mention the "green agenda"
for the Games at all (except in a single passing reference to
We explored with Jeremy Browne whether the change of government
had led to a downgrading of emphasis on the "green agenda".
He responded that he did not know why this had been omitted from
the Government's objectives for its public diplomacy work. He
said there had been no policy shift, and added that "I am
surprised and disappointed if it is felt that the environmental
aspects have been given insufficient attention. We will need to
turn the volume up on that."
67. In subsequent written evidence, Mr Browne
commented: "We are very proud that British expertise has
made 2012 what will undoubtedly be the greenest Olympics ever".
He drew attention to the Going for Green film, adding that
the series of short 'See Britain' films also being promoted by
the FCO would have a significant 'green' element; and that "our
] regularly promote green issues at their events
68. We note the Ministerial
assurances that there has been no change of policy over emphasising
the extent to which the 2012 Games will be the 'greenest' ever.
We conclude that the UK can be proud of what has been achieved
on the Olympics site in terms of promoting environmental good
practice. We commend the FCO for commissioning the excellent documentary
film, Going for Green, and recommend that by
means of this film and in other ways it should continue to promote
the 'green agenda' vigorously. We further recommend that "the
promotion of environmental good practice" should be added
to the FCO's list of formal objectives for its public diplomacy
work in connection with the Games.
69. In his written submission, Dr Patrick Spaven
the Olympics are a double-edged sword. The focus
can lead to negative change as well as positive. The balance depends
to a large extent on the effectiveness of the management of the
events, infrastructure, security etc. But public diplomacy has
a role to play and the extent to which that role is leveraged
positively depends on the quality of its strategy and how it is
implemented. [...] it is easier for perceptions to change negatively
than positively especially where communications are the only mediator.
Part of any strategy must be about guarding against reputational
70. Dr Spaven points out that London and the
UK are currently perceived relatively positively by the world
taken as a whole. In consequence, there is a real risk that "bad
news stories" during the Games could actively damage that
reputation. He comments:
There are the obvious threats such as terrorist incidents,
transport or crowd control problems, the "Heathrow experience",
doping scandals, Games infrastructure shortfalls. The risk of
these types of threats can be reduced if not entirely eliminated.
There is also the less controllable risk of more
dispersed negative phenomena like crime or rudeness to visitors
which elements of the media are fond of highlighting. The captive
presence of the world's media in and around the Olympics is indeed
a double-edged sword. Many of them have time on their hands and
are not averse to making mischief. Effective management of the
mediawithout the heavy hand which can be destructiveis
very important. Sydney is said to have handled this well in 2000
through its media strategy.
71. Dr Spaven noted that, "even if incidents
take place, the impact on reputation need not be serious".
He cited the example of Chile's San José mine rescue as
showing how effective recovery from a disaster can lead to reputational
72. Simon Anholt also argued that an unsuccessful
Games might damage the UK's reputation more than a successful
Games might enhance it:
There tends to be an assumption that if one simply
has an Olympics and it goes off without a hitch, it will somehow,
in heavy inverted commas, brand the nation, making it more famous
and more popular. My own view is that that is highly unlikely
to happen with the UK, because [
] the chances of us putting
on an Olympics so good that people think more about the UK afterwards,
or improve their impression of it, are very remote. You could
argue from that point of view that there is a greater chance of
us suffering from the Olympics than benefitting from them. I hope
not, but anybody who imagines that a successful event will make
us more famous is probably kidding themselves, and disastrous
Olympics could set us back a few years.
73. Mr Anholt stressed the importance of the
Games organisers engaging in systematic scenario modelling:
You get a lot of people who are very good at scenarios
who sit down and work out the 20 possible things that could go
wrong and what impact those would have on all the things that
matter to us. What have we got waiting to ensure that the damage
is limited as far as possible? For example, if we were to have
a dramatic infrastructure breakdown during the Olympics and getting
people to the site was catastrophically bad, that would have an
immediate impact on foreign direct investment, because it sends
out a very clear symbol that this isn't a place where things work.
It would take a little effort to reassure people that that was
an anomaly, rather than a pattern.
74. Jeremy Browne pointed out to us that features
of previous Games which have gone wrong, such as big budget overruns
or delays in construction, were highly unlikely to occur in the
case of the 2012 Games, because construction works at the Olympic
site were currently on course to be completed comfortably in advance
of the Games and within budget. Mr Browne noted that cross-Departmental
contingency planning to deal with other risks, relating to security
or problems with the transport system, was well advanced.
75. We conclude that the 2012
Olympics pose potential reputational risks as well as opportunities
for the UK. The FCO is not the lead Department in contingency
planning for organisational, transport or security problems during
the Games, but it will have a responsibility for seeking to influence
overseas perceptions of any problems that arise. We recommend
that the FCO should make sure that, acting in concert with its
Olympics public diplomacy partners, there is a 'rapid response
unit' adequately resourced and prepared to take swift action to
rebut or challenge negative stories appearing in the world media.
We further recommend that this unit should be up and running significantly
in advance of the start of the Games, that it should engage in
intensive preparatory scenario-modelling, and that it should draw
on the experience of successful media strategies by other recent
host countries of major sporting events, notably Australia with
the 2000 Sydney Olympics and Germany with the 2006 World Cup.
London Olympics or UK Olympics?
76. Dr Patrick Spaven comments that most cities
are so closely identified with their countries that perception
changes as a result of the Olympics will be shared by both, as
was the case with the Beijing, Athens and Sydney Olympics. However,
he argues that there is evidence London may be different:
factor analysis of the City Brand Index survey results
suggest that London and New York are perceived as "world
cities", somewhat detached from their hinterlands. London's
widely-appreciated openness to international influences and change
are in juxtaposition to persistent popular perceptions of the
UK as having insular and backward-looking tendencies (albeit in
a complex mix with more "modern" identity elements).
77. Dr Spaven commented:
In my view it would be wrong to assume that perception
outcomesparticularly positive onesfor London will
be directly transferred to the wider UK. If this is the intention,
the relevance of the messaging about London to the wider UK needs
to be explicit and demonstrable.
78. Conrad Bird, Head of Public Diplomacy at
the FCO, asked to comment on this issue, told us that the 'See
Britain' films being promoted by the FCO "are not London-centric,
they are a range of 29 stories from foreign nationals who have
spent time and have travelled around the UK. In their entirety
they show a very rich portrait of the entire UK via these people's
travels and where they have stayed. That presents a more balanced
story than just a London, south-east message."
79. We recommend that the FCO
should instruct its Posts not only to promote the 2012 Games as
"the London Games" but also, where appropriate, as an
event hosted by the entire UK and its component nations and regions.
The Olympics: tradition and modernity
80. In 2012 the international media will focus
on the UK not only because of the Olympic Games but also because
of the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen. Events to celebrate
the sixtieth anniversary of the Queen's accession will take place
across the country throughout the year, and will culminate in
the official Jubilee Weekend on 2 to 5 June, two months before
the start of the Olympic Games. Only one previous British monarch
has celebrated a Diamond Jubilee: Queen Victoria in 1897.
81. Professor Nick Cull commented to us that:
While it makes sense to take full advantage of the
coincidence of the Olympics with the Diamond Jubilee year care
should be taken to avoid undercutting the image of British modernity
with a heritage and tradition message tied to the Jubilee. While
this dimension is probably inherent to the Jubilee, perhaps planning
around that event should be to mix the message in some way.
82. Professor Cull advocated that one aspect
of the Olympic Games relating to "heritage and tradition"
should be emphasised: the fact that London will be the only city
to have hosted the Games more than twice. He noted that London
had hosted the Games
in 1908 and 1948, both times in response to emergency
situations (the eruption of Vesuvius in the first instance and
the war in the second). The 1948 games were marked by the austerity
of the era (with the US government famously having to fly extra
food to sustain the athletes). It is possible that both 1908 and
1948 might provide stories that could serve the general and bilateral
public diplomacy goals of 2012. Looking back to 1908 and 1948
stresses the role of the UK as a nation with a profound commitment
to sport and ethics of fair play.
83. Professor Cull proposed that the FCO should
draw attention to positive stories from the 1908 London Games,
including the coining of the phrase "the most important thing
in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part", and
the first gold medal won by an African-American. He also suggested
that surviving athletes from the 1948 Games might be honoured
at receptions at FCO Posts, or at the 2012 Games themselves, adding
that "such honour would be a valuable counter to the impression
that the West is not respectful of its elders".
84. We note that in 2012 the
world's media will be paying special attention to the UK not only
because of the Olympic Games but also because of the Queen's Diamond
Jubilee. We conclude that there is no reason why this double cause
for celebration should in any way send out conflicting images
of the UK. The two events
are not strictly comparable. The Olympics will receive intense
media coverage over a short period: 17 days in July/August for
the Olympic Games, followed by 12 days in August/September for
the Paralympic Games. The Jubilee, on the other hand, will be
celebrated throughout the year, beginning on the anniversary of
Her Majesty's accession on 6 February. Both events will send out
messages about the kind of country the UK aspires to be. The messages
will be different but compatible. The Diamond Jubilee will, quite
properly, look backwards in thanksgiving for Her Majesty's sixty
years of service, and will celebrate a country "grounded"
in its rich history and the long continuity and stability of its
constitutional arrangements. The Olympics will, equally properly,
look to youth and the future. We
recommend that in promoting both the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic
and Paralympic Games, the FCO should not attempt to mix together
the messages of two quite separate events, but should promote
each in its own distinctive way.
85. We recommend that the promotion
of the 2012 Games should include recognition of London's status
as the only city ever to have hosted the Games three times. We
further recommend that, where possible and appropriate, surviving
athletes from the 1948 Games should be invited to participate
in the Olympic ceremonies and in events held to mark the Games,
including those organised by overseas Posts.
The Olympic Truce
86. The 'Olympic Truce' derives from a custom
observed during the ancient Olympic Games, whereby the city-states
of Greece refrained from hostilities with each other for the duration
of the Games. In its modern form, dating from 1993, the Truce
is proposed by the United Nations General Assembly, which passes
a resolution in advance of each Games calling upon its member
states "to take the initiative to abide by the Truce, individually
and collectively, and to pursue in conformity with the purposes
and principles of the Charter of the United Nations the peaceful
settlement of all international conflicts".
It is intended that the relevant motion will be put to the General
Assembly in 2011 by Lord Coe in his capacity as Chairman of the
London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games; he will be acting
also on behalf of the UK Government and the International Olympic
Committee. Baroness Rawlings, speaking on behalf of the Government
in the House of Lords in October 2011, said that "The Government
take the truce very seriously and will be taking measures to make
sure it is properly observed and promoted in relation to the 2012
London Olympic & Paralympic Games".
87. Lord Bates of Langbaurgh sent us written
evidence relating to the Olympic Truce. He noted with regret that
no mention of the Truce was made in the FCO's written or oral
evidence to us. He commented:
If past experience is to be repeated then the London
2012 Olympic Truce Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly
will be immediately signed by all 193 member states of the United
Nations and then universally ignored.
Lord Bates proposed that the UK should take positive
initiatives to turn the Truce into a reality in conflict situations
around the world, arguing that the Truce, "as originally
intended, could be a powerful force in the public diplomacy efforts
of the FCO". He argues that any such measures would be dependent
on the other parties involved accepting the offer of a truce:
"if other parties, state or non-state, do not accept the
offer then we are under no obligation to hold to it ourselves".
88. We recommend that, in its
response to this Report, the Government should state what actions
it proposes to take to work towards international implementation
of the United Nations 'Olympic Truce', as part of its commitment
to international peace-keeping and conflict prevention.
89. We will continue to monitor
the FCO's public diplomacy work related to the Olympic and Paralympic
Games. We recommend that the FCO should supply us with regular
(three-monthly) detailed written updates on that work during the
run-up to the Games.
25 Ev 19 Back
Singapore Presentation, 6 July 2005, at http://www.london2012.com/documents/locog-publications/singapore-presentation-speeches.pdf Back
Ev 20 Back
Not reported. Back
A complete list of the films projected is given at Annex C to
the FCO memorandum (Ev 25). Back
Ev 21 Back
Ev 28 Back
Ev 21 Back
Ev 36 Back
Q 23; Ev 37 Back
Ev 37 Back
Ev 36 Back
Q 28 Back
Ev 23 Back
Ev 22; Ev 31 Back
Q 47 Back
Q 48 Back
Ev 19; Ev 20 Back
Q 51 Back
Q 52 Back
Q 74 (Sir John Stanley) Back
Prime Minister's Speech to FCO Leadership Conference, Tuesday
6 July 2010, "PM calls on diplomats to "do more with
less", http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/latest-news/2010/07/pm-calls-on-diplomats-to-do-more-with-less-52966 Back
Speech to UKTI business summit, New York, 14 July 2010, http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/speeches-and-transcripts/2010/07/speech-to-ukti-business-summit-53382
Ev 20 Back
Ev 19 Back
Ev 23 Back
Q 20 Back
Q 22 Back
Q 58 Back
Q 60 Back
Ev 38 Back
Information taken from FCO video, Going for Green: Britain's
2012 Dream (2010), soundtrack commentary. Back
See the objectives listed in the FCO's written evidence: Ev 19;
Ev 20. Back
Ev 21 Back
Q 61 Back
Ev 38 Back
Ev 34 Back
Q 21 Back
Q 30 Back
Qq 68, 73 Back
Ev 35 Back
Q 53 Back
Ev 37 Back
Ev 43 Back
HL Deb, 11 October 2010, col 368 Back
Ev 44 Back