Just shy of one million of people took part in I Am Team GB, the homecoming event for our Rio 2016 Olympians. The event staged by The National Lottery and ITV was the UK’s biggest ever sports participation event, new research has shown.
I Am Team GB was an opportunity to welcome home Britain’s Olympic heroes, whilst encouraging people to get active alongside them and to thank National Lottery players for the part they played in helping to fund the athletes and elite sport. As part of this ITV switched off all of its channels for an hour to encourage the nation to get involved.
Following a hugely successful, cross-channel campaign to drive participation, the event exceeded all expectations. Its target was to encourage 300,000 people to participate, but new figures from YouGov suggest that more than 970,000 people actually took part in I Am Team GB events at flagship locations and local sports clubs, or just took the opportunity to do something active on their own or with their family such as going for a run or a bike ride.
A selection of Team GB’s finest Lottery-funded Olympians, with 50 medals between them, including 21 Gold, 22 Silver and 7 Bronze, supported I Am Team GB by attending events the length and breadth of the UK. Medal winners such as Max Whitlock and Charlotte Dujardin, Alistair Brownlee and Greg Rutherford were among some of the biggest names in Olympic sport to take part, together with ITV stars such as Alesha Dixon and Ben Fogle, who joined the nearly 1 million people at I Am Team GB events across the country.
The public were invited to take part in the record-breaking sports day at 14 flagship events, including activities held on the sets of Coronation Street and Emmerdale. In addition, 2,600 events were hosted by local sports clubs and organisations nationwide which have also confirmed record numbers of attendees. All of the events were free and didn’t require a ticket, allowing everyone to turn up and have a go.
There were 85 different sports and activities on offer for the public to try. From aikido and American football to disability swimming and dodgeball, scuba diving and snooker, to volleyball and weightlifting – there was something for everyone irrespective of age, fitness or ability.
Significantly, of the almost 1 million people who took part, the YouGov research reveals that over half (52%) were not keen on sport – preferring to do other things than sport or activity in their spare time and also showed that 68% agreed that they are likely to do more exercise as a result of the event. An additional online survey by ABA Research showed that 48% tried a new activity for the first time.
The day was an incredibly inclusive event. It attracted people from every nation and region, across all ages, socio economic groups, ethnicities and abilities; 17% of participants were from BAME backgrounds, 24% had a disability or health problem which limits their activity a lot, over half of the participants (52%) were families (households with children), 46% were women and more than a third (38%) were over 40 years of age.
Furthermore, the YouGov research suggests that, of those aware of the I Am Team GB campaign, over 4 million people say they now feel inspired to do more exercise, so the day should play an important role in kick-starting participation in sports and exercise more widely.
I Am Team GB took place in conjunction with the British Olympic Association (BOA), UK Sport and was supported by Join In. It was also supported by Sport England, Public Health England, parkrun, GLL, Pitchero amongst others.
Bill Sweeney, Chief Executive Officer at the BOA, said: “The stories that came from Rio 2016 were an inspiration to many and I Am Team GB proved to be the perfect homecoming for the returning athletes and exceeded all expectations we had for the event. We shared in the National Lottery and ITV’s vision for the Nation’s Biggest Ever Sports Day and the numbers and engagement on the day truly speak for themselves. It also showcased the incredible work being undertaken by the sports’ National Governing Bodies and once again highlighted that sport can be accessible and enjoyable for all, but we know that this event must form part of the bigger picture of getting people active and engaged with sport week after week for a healthy active nation.”
Clare Phillips, Head of Brand Planning ITV:“We’re delighted that nearly a million people came out on bank holiday weekend to take part in I Am Team GB and try a new sport. ITV put everything into this initiative; talent, editorial, marketing, iconic locations like Coronation Street and Emmerdale and, of course, we switched off all our channels for the first time in our history. As the nation’s biggest commercial broadcaster, we’re proud to have helped mark Team GB’s incredible performance in Rio and brought people across the UK together for this unique moment.”
Sally Cowdry, Consumer and Retail Director for The National Lottery, said: “National Lottery players have contributed over £80 million a year to support over 1,300 athletes for sporting success in Rio and beyond – and we wanted to create a nationwide event that everyone could participate in as a way of truly thanking them for their backing. We’re delighted that nearly 1 million people took the opportunity to get active and hope that the sparks of a few future Olympic careers will have been ignited as a result.”
Liz Nicholl, Chief Executive of UK Sport, said: “: We are immensely proud that our Olympians, who delivered so resoundingly for the nation in Rio, were once again able to play their part in inspiring the nation to get active by joining in the nation’s biggest ever sports day on 27thAugust. We believe in the power of our athletes to inspire the nation and together with the National Lottery and ITV through this incredibly special and innovative event they were able to do so again."