OLYMPIC LEGACY: Twitter wasn’t sure about #london2012… but it is now

How do we look back at London 2012? If Twitter is anything to go by with fondness and nostalgia.

That glorious summer where Mo Farah won double gold, volunteers with foam fingers greeted the nation and Horseguards Parade got turned into a beach volleyball venue.

For some, 2012 was the last of Britain. A summer where we came together and welcomed the world and the world were impressed. For others, it was a summer where it was harder to get to work and G4S had to be bailed out for bungling the security.

Me? Some mixed feelings. One of the #localgov community left us early which cast a shadow. But of the sport and the feeling of unity looking back with fondness. I liked that Britain. I’d like that one back, please.

What did Twitter think in the run-up to London 2012?

In the run-up to London 2012 we ran some analysis of what people were saying on Twitter to benchmark. Of 1,393 tweets:

38 per cent were positive.

32 per cent were negative.

26 per cent were neutral.

Bearing in mind the months of negative stories those figures were hardly surprising. In the run-up to the games the security, venue completion and what would be in the Opening Ceremony all took a beating.


But exactly four years people look back with fondness

Looking back the same analysis of 1,505 tweets but four years on in 2016 looking back to London 2012 show a positive picture:

87 per cent were positive.

3 per cent were negative.

10 per cent were neutral.
A BBC Sport tweet that looked back to London 2012 shared more than 200 times led the way. A similar one from BBC Newsbeat was shared almost 40 times.



Gold and Pandemonium

At the time, the sea change in perception felt like it happened with the Opening Ceremony. If you’ve forgotten it this Buzzfeed round-up does the job perfectly. Me? I started it a cynic and within 15 minutes I was in tears. This wasn’t synchronised gymnastics or Kings and Queens. It felt like my story. This was the story I learned from my Grandpa about how life was hard and all the good things we have we had to struggle for. Would the Empire Windrush appear at an event today? I’d like to think so but I’m not sure.

But on the night, I knew I was in safe hands when I heard a snatch of the Sex Pistols. Anything that has that in wasn’t going to send anyone to sleep.


That the results on the track, field, pool, velodrome and everywhere else resulted in medals was great but the Opening Ceremony gave my strongest memories.

There’ll be a whole series of other metrics on London 2012 to judge if it was a success.


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  1. Thanks for that, Dan. I too was moved to tears twice during the opening ceremony – when the huge circles of fire came together to make the Olympic rings and then again at the end, when the individual ‘petals’ which had been lit by the young athletes rose up off the arena floor and formed the Olympic flame. Amazing.

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