By Tom Degun

guys-watching-sports-on-tvJune 13 - Almost half of the British public have changed their summer holiday plans to ensure they are at home to watch the Olympic and Paralympic Games, according to a new study from British Airways.

The survey reveals that more than 40 per cent have already juggled their holiday time specifically around the London 2012 in order to stay at home and support the athletes, in sports such as cycling, athletics, swimming and football, while one in 10 have even cancelled a holiday.

A staggering 89 per cent of people in Northern Ireland, 45 per cent in the East Midlands and more than a third of Londoners polled said they would change their holiday plans to watch the Games.

In addition, nearly 10 per cent said they would cancel a family engagement or a romantic date to watch the Games while a similar number of 18-24 year olds even stated they would pray for the Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes.

British pride_12_June
There has also been a surge in British pride in recent weeks (pictured above) with 38 per cent of the public now feeling more patriotic since the Olympic Flame landed in the United Kingdom (UK) on flight BA2012 alongside the Princess Royal, President of the British Olympic Association, and former England football captain David Beckham (pictured below) on May 18.

Furthermore, a third of respondents agreed that the Olympic Games is the most important national event to take place during their lifetime saying it makes them feel proud to be British.

This was a point echoed by four-times Olympic rowing champion Sir Matthew Pinsent.

"Every athlete knows and understands the feeling of competing on home ground," he said.

"There's a magic about knowing the eyes of your country are on you.

"Winning gold at home is the ultimate challenge and the most sought-after prize in an athlete's career.

"The support of the nation means everything."

Princess Royal_12_June
To give the home nation a boost, British Airways – a London 2012 Tier One Partner – has launched the "Flying Britain Home" campaign, offering £250,000 ($389,000/€312,000) worth of flights to ex-pat Britons who live abroad to fly back for the Games.

A further 50 flights have been offered to Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes to bring their friends and family home during the Games, with the promotion running until June 14 via Facebook – click here.

"It's such a proud time to be British and we're hoping to get the nation into the spirit by flying hundreds of ex-pats back to the UK to celebrate the summer of sport," said British Airways sponsorship manager Luisa Fernandez.

"We are immensely proud to support Team GB and ParalympicsGB, and will be doing everything we can to rally the nation behind them and give our athletes a home advantage."

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