I’m so proud right now
An athlete wins Olympic gold and stands on the podium, gold medal around the neck, as their country’s national anthem plays. It’s a special moment. In fact, 93% of almost 1,400 respondents to the latest eZonomics online poll say they feel happier when someone from their country wins an Olympic medal, either a short-term boost for a moment or one that lasts for weeks.
As an international “mega event”, the Olympic Games is more than just a sporting event. Its influence appears to extend across a wide range of factors, including well-being, international trade and more as the research papers outlined in our Do the Olympics make our lives better slideshows show.
Why do medals make us happy?
Happiness experts know that spending time with friends and family tends to make us feel better. Take research by academic Nattavudh Powdthavee that estimates that for the average English person seeing friends or family on most days rather than once or twice a week increases happiness by as much as would a pay rise of £15,000 (€18,000) a year). Families and friends tend to gather and watch sports together, so it stands to reason that people are feeling good about it.
In addition, Olympic hosts can get a “feel good factor”, research finds. Major football tournaments are particularly good at giving hosts the wellbeing boost but, for the Olympics, it seems that the joy is more closely linked to a country doing better than expected.
Does all this joy pay off?
As far as the economy and personal finance go, it’s hard to predict the effects of Olympic happiness.
But when people are happy, they tend to be more productive, which can be good for them and good for the wider economy as well.