London watchdog slams secrecy around Oly ticketing
A London city watchdog has slammed the committee organizing the
2012 Olympics for its ticket policy, arguing that the secrecy
surrounding the allocation of Olympic tickets has undermined public
The 25-member London Assembly, which acts as a check on London
Mayor Boris Johnson, challenged Olympic organizers on Thursday to
give more information on its ticket allocations in a report labeled
”Sold Out?” The London Olympic organizing committee – called
LOCOG – is a private entity, and the assembly complained that means
it is exempt from Freedom of Information laws which could be used
to force a handover of the data.
”It is completely unacceptable that an organization that only
exists because of a huge investment of public money can hide behind
its status as a private company to avoid questions it does not
like,” said Dee Doocey, head the committee that wrote the report.
”For most people, the games will be a once-in-a-lifetime
experience, so it’s vital they have confidence in the ticketing
process, particularly those who have missed out on tickets.”
London Olympic organizers said they would respond to the
assembly’s request when ticket sales are done.
London’s Olympic ticketing process has been dogged by repeated
computer problems and huge demand. Organizers set up a complicated
lottery system in which people blindly registered for tickets and
handed over their credit card details to pay for them before they
knew what – if any – tickets they were getting.
A majority of ticket seekers failed to get any in the
first-round sale that ended in April – with 22 million requests
coming in for the 6.6 million tickets available in prices that
ranged from 20.12 pounds ($31.60) to 2,012 pounds ($3,159). Further
rounds were blighted by computer problems, and plans for future
ticket sales have failed to stem public grumbling.
As the July 27-Aug. 12 Summer Games draw near, the ticket
allocations for sponsors are likely to come under even greater
scrutiny for they give the impression that the wealthy and
connected get special treatment.
But more is at stake than dashed expectations. Britain faces
tough economic times, and British taxpayers are putting up 9.3
billion pounds ($14.6 billion) for games that most will be unable
to attend. Critics have charged that millions are being spent to
build stadiums and provide security for the event – only for the
public to be shortchanged.
”LOCOG is putting public confidence at risk by refusing to
provide a complete breakdown of how many tickets were available for
each event,” Doocey said in a statement.
The report was particularly critical of the committee’s failure
to provide a detailed breakdown of how many tickets have been sold
for each event – and for what price. It objected to what it called
organizers’ failure to say whether the cheaper tickets were spread
equally across all events.
Interest in some events, such as soccer, has been muted and
supply exceeds demand. Soccer’s main tournament is the World Cup,
and many of the top stars in the game are not eligible for the
Olympics because of age restrictions – most contenders must be
”We always knew that ticket allocation would be difficult and
would disappoint some people,” Doocey said in a statement. ”But
if LOCOG had been open and transparent right from the start, a lot
of public suspicion and anger could have been avoided.”
Olympic authorities said in a statement they would comply with
the assembly’s requests – but that would have to wait until the
entire sale process is complete.
”We are committed to providing a full breakdown of ticket
sales, and believe the best time to do this is once we have
completed the final sales process – we still have over 3 million
Olympic and Paralympic tickets to sell and our priority is to get
those into the hands of sports fans,” organizers said.
”We are firmly committed to providing 75 percent of the total
number of Olympic tickets to the British public, and if we can
deliver more than this, we will,” they added.
The Paralympics run from Aug. 29 to Sept 9.