Thursday 26 April 2018

London 2012: Olympic ticket secrecy criticised

Helen William

LONDON 2012 was criticised today for potentially damaging public trust, support and confidence by being unnecessarily secretive about ticket sales.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) has been able to withhold information about tickets for the Games amid the frenzied sales because of its status as a private company. This makes it exempt from Freedom of Information requests, the London Assembly's Economy, Culture and Sport (ECS) Committee states.

After a two-year campaign, the committee is still demanding answers to a range of questions about the 8.8 million Olympic and two million Paralympics tickets for the public.

"Locog's legal status should not excuse them from the transparency and openness we expect in other areas of public life," committee chair Dee Doocey stated.

London 2012 has not provided a detailed breakdown of how many tickets have been sold at what price for each event, according to the ECS Sold Out? report.

In late 2010, London 2012 suggested that out of 8.8 million Olympic tickets, 2.5 million would cost £20 or less (28pc).

It has refused to provide information to prove whether cheaper tickets were spread equally across all events, or concentrated in events such as football, where supply exceeds demand, it was noted.

The committee is now hoping that a letter to the Olympic Board, which oversees London 2012, may unlock this information.

Ms Doocey said: "It is completely unacceptable that an organisation 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.

"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.

"Locog is putting public confidence at risk by refusing to provide a complete breakdown of how many tickets were available for each event.

"We always knew that ticket allocation would be difficult and would disappoint some people.

"But if Locog had been open and transparent right from the start, a lot of public suspicion and anger could have been avoided."

Question marks still hang over how 10,000 tickets to the synchronised swimming were sold accidentally and then later withdrawn and technical faults with the ticket resale website, the committee noted.

London 2012 wants to raise between £20 million to £50 million from Paralympic tickets as part of its overall £500 million revenue target from all Olympic and Paralympic ticket sales.

London 2012 must raise £2 billion from the private sector to stage the Games.

Efforts to try to make the ticket process accessible and inclusive were praised.

This included the decision to use a ballot and the original commitment to provide significant numbers of tickets at affordable prices, such as discounted tickets for young people and free tickets for carers.

The report concluded: "Unfortunately, it is impossible to judge whether Locog is continuing to make the right decisions because of the secrecy that surrounds the ticketing process.

"Similarly, disquiet about the ticketing process has been fuelled by the technical problems in the ticket sale system, which have not yet been fully explained.

"In our view, it is unacceptable that key information on the price of available tickets will be withheld until after the Games.

"We also need to know more about the tickets made available to sponsors and to disabled people.

"Locog has been able to withhold this information because of its status as a private company yet the sole reason for its existence is an event that is being staged as a result of a huge investment of public funds.

"Overall, Locog's approach risks jeopardising the trust and support of Londoners.

"The Games' success depends on public support and we now call on the Olympic Board to help ensure that public confidence in the distribution of 2012 tickets is maintained."

A London 2012 spokesman said: "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 three million Olympic and Paralympic tickets to sell and our priority is to get those into the hands of sports fans.

"We are firmly committed to providing 75pc of the total number of Olympic tickets to the British public and if we can deliver more than this, we will."

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